As you know, Seattle in January isn’t known for its pellucid weather. I’ve gotten in a full quota of rainy day rides already, and we still have months more to go.
One of the more miserable biking experiences is having to change a flat tire. Add in darkness and rain, and you’ve got the perfect mix for the ultimate misery. The only way it gets worse is if it’s sleeting out below freezing.
As you can imagine, every ride I check my tires, and always hope and pray for another flat-free ride. Until Wednesday that prayer had been answered. But, alas, all good things must come to an end, and that includes my months-long run of no flat tires.
I noticed my bike handling in the heart-stinkingly squishy way characteristic of a flat tire near the UW, less than five miles into my ride, but far enough to be a long way from any buses that could bail me out easily.
It wasn’t raining much, just a little sprinkle here and there, and Dad and I had planned to meet up and ride home together. I kept riding a ways, long enough to know for sure I definitely couldn’t deny the truth. I’d have to stop and change the tire.
I ended up finding a place on the 520 bridge to change my flat. It had lots of good lighting, anyway, if everything else about the situation left much to be desired.
I changed the flat. The rain started in earnest. A dozen or more people rode by. None offered to help, which I understand — it was dark, cold, and rainy. Still, it made me wonder if my asking “Are you OK?” when I see a cyclist pulled over is actually that unusual. I have stopped to help on occasion if they say they need it, too, because that’s what I’d want done for me.
It wasn’t the easiest or hardest flat to change, but somewhere in the middle. I only carry a (filthy) hand pump on my commuter bike, and while it worked okay, even my low pressure tires didn’t get very well filled. Thus, I stopped at the bike shop on my way home, and the guys took care of me. They re-changed my flat to make it tidier, put anti-flat goo in the tube, and filled me up to my usual 50 psi. I got home later than usual, but I did get home.
It’s holding fine so far.
So at one point during the evening, I started feeling pretty sorry for myself, and it wasn’t fun. To fight the self-pity quicksand, I started thinking of things I was thankful for about the situation:
- It was above 40 F. Colder would’ve been a lot worse.
- I did have good light.
- I had all the tools and skills I needed to solve the problem, all of which worked!
- I didn’t get a pinch flat on any of the 1/2″-tall slabs of steel I had to bump-bump over along the 520 bridge on my really low pressure tire.
- It could’ve been raining a lot harder (and later it did!).
- The bike shop was open and the guys are super nice, and took pity on me. (I later brought them thank-you cookies.)
- I have the luxury of owning a nice bike and all the bike gear, and have the time to commute.
And you know what? When I finished thinking of all this stuff, I really did feel much better.