You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
This morning I rode in decent conditions — 28° or so, a slight headwind, thankfully no precipitation. Twice my lengthwise bungee cord disengaged when I went over bumps or into potholes (lots of those), necessitating the slamming on of breaks and reattaching of said bungee. I’d throttle the faithless thing if I thought it would help, but it probably would just throttle me right back. Anyway, I arrived at the train station normally, stretched, and got on the train when it came. I tied my bike up in the vestibule and went to sit in the upstairs part of the car, which tends to be warmer and have nicer views than the lower section. Coming in to Worcester, I went down to ready my bike, and that’s when I noticed my flat front tire.
Getting on the train my tire seemed fine, but now I couldn’t deny its flatness. Even so, I hoped to ride to work on it and repair it there. This hope immediately died when I sat on the bike: the tire compressed until I rode on the rim insulated slightly by tube and tire. Drat. So I walked the bike to work, occasionally casting resentful glances at my Benedict Arnold front wheel. Once there I stowed it away in its cubby hole under the stairs near the maintenance offices and went off to do my work, figuring that I would fix the tire eventually.
Throughout the day, that flat tire nagged at the back of my mind. I always carry a patch kit and pump with me for just such an occasion, but I’ve never actually used said tools except in the comfort of my own home. More importantly, I’ve never actually changed it by myself; some helpful family member has always lent a hand when I needed it. So I doubted my ability to
(a) Successfully remove the tire;
(b) Successfully apply the patch; and
(c) Successfully reattach the tire and wheel.
About two o’clock in the afternoon, a couple of maintenance guys saw me and said, “Hey, did you know you have a flat tire?” “Yes,” I said, “Is it really flat now?” “Oh yeah,” they replied, almost enjoying it. “It’s reeeeally flat.” This witty repartee finally spurred me on, so an hour later I gathered my baggie of bike repair tools and took myself down to the bike.
Sure enough, that tire had no air. It had practically created a vacuum around it, it was so empty. The maintenance guys, looking for a fun show, offered the use of their workshop for my bike work, since the lobby didn’t seem quite appropriate. Once there, I remembered to disengage the brake when taking the wheel off, which was a good start. As I worked, maintenance guys slowly gathered around. Eventually they all stood in a semicircle around me and my bike making comments and giving suggestions as I sanded the hole clean. They reminisced about changing bike tires with screw drivers and lighting patch kits on fire back in the day. They gave me advice on greasing my chain and asked about my commute. They commented on my technique and remarked on how I pulled out the little instruction page that goes with the patch kit. Eventually they wandered away, leaving me to wrestle the tire and tube back onto the wheel and pump it up all by myself.
At least as far as I can tell, the patch actually stopped the leak and my tire held its air just fine on the ride home. Doing this, however, made me notice that the wheel seems to actually wobble on the hub. Although the axle is firmly screwed in to the fork, the front wheel wobbles a bit side to side when I ride. This worries me, and I’m not really sure what to do to fix it. But at least my patching seems to have worked! I pumped the tire up fully upon arriving home, so any slow leak will reveal itself overnight. I feel so competent and prepared.