If you have a bicycle, and you don’t know how to repair a flat tire, you must learn before going out on your next ride. This is an order, not a suggestion.
I purchased my road bicycle in the early spring of 2009. Yep, well over 2 years ago. And up until last night, I have never changed a flat tire by myself. How completely and utterly ignorant of me. I have had my fair share of flat tires, they just happened to occur just a mile or so from my destination and then I would take it to my local bike shop and they would fix the flat and send me on my merry way. I attended a maintenance “class” once, basically it was a really annoyed guy that quickly demonstrated everything but didn’t have time for questions or to allow us to practice. Awesome. So basically I had witnessed someone changing a flat, but I didn’t know how. Up until yesterday, I didn’t even have all of the proper equipment needed to repair a flat. Thanks dude who sold me all of my cycling gear, way to not go the extra step to ensure I made a happy transition from runner to cyclist by fully educating me on the essentials. UGH.
Rewind a few days, Saturday afternoon I had quite a bit of time on my hands and decided to get in a decent ride at one of my favorite metroparks. I was really excited to use my Garmin too so that I knew how many miles I actually was riding. I was going along at a steady clip of 3:30-4:00 minute pace per mile and had just zoomed past the 12 mile mark when my rear tire went flat as a pancake. I stayed calm and realized I had a few options:
- I could lock my bicycle up to a tree and run the 12 miles back to my car, it would be uncomfortable and would take a while, but it could also prove to be dangerous as I didn’t have much water or gatorade left.
- I could walk with my bicycle back to the Nature Center, which was about 2 miles away and ask for help.
I decided to walk to the Nature Center, if no one could help me, I could lock my bike up there and run 10 miles back, and fill up my water bottles at the water fountain on the premises.
When I entered the Nature Center, I was actually taken aback by how unfriendly and unwilling to help multiple people were. A few volunteers had an attitude and before I could even state what my claim was said in a snarky voice ‘Do you need water or SOMETHING?! It’s over there’. I swallowed the lump in my throat and replied ‘Thank you for the water, but actually I need more help than that, I have a flat tire and…’ then I was rudely cut-off and told ‘We can’t help you we don’t have a repair kit’. I responded, ‘Well, actually I was hoping I could speak to a Park Ranger and see if he/she could give me a ride back to my car, parked at the Marina 10 miles from here’
Que the crickets. You would have thought with all the quizzical looks I received I was speaking a foreign language.
Eventually multiple people (who were not rangers) basically stated they didn’t think the Park Rangers would be willing to do something like that…
Um…maybe I’m wrong but isn’t part of a Park Ranger’s job description to ensure the safety of its visitors? I think on a hot as balls day with high humidity, that if I ran back to my car, things could have gotten dangerous. Yes, I realize it is my fault that I didn’t have the essentials needed to repair my bicycle, but you would think someone would be willing to help me, maybe just a bit? What if I did successfully repair my flat and got another one? Or what if I injured myself when I got my flat, etc.
They also said ‘Um, don’t you have someone you can call?’ and I responded quietly ‘Actually, no, I don’t, my husband is out-of-town and I have no one else who could help me’. I had almost given up hope and stated calmly that I would just lock my bicycle up in the bicycle rack and hoof it back to my car on foot. Then a Good Samaritan who overheard the conversation chimed in that she would happily give me a ride back to my car.
The volunteers looked at her like she was nuts. This woman was supposed to be helping out with a music program in a little over an hour, and one of the staff members she was supposed to be helping stated ‘Well, the music program is your first priority, do you honestly think you can drive her to the Marina and back and make it back in time for the program?’ I seriously couldn’t make this up if I tried. The musician assured them she would be back in time, as it was only a 20 mile round-trip.
I thanked the woman SO very much and we had a nice chat with one another as we piled into her car. Once we got in we discussed various types of music, as she wanted to ensure she played something that I would enjoy. John Denver was on the speakers, and I told her I couldn’t be happier.
After the music selection was out-of-the-way, we got into a pretty deep conversation about how sad the world has become. I had no one to call to help me, I had my cell phone but I honestly don’t know a single other person in my town. I’ve lived in my apartment for almost 2 years and I ‘ve never met a single neighbor of mine, the only person I know in my town is my husband.
We discussed how sad it was that only 1 out of 10 people I spoke to offered to help me out today. 10% success rate? Awesome.
As our little journey came to an end, I thanked the woman a million times more and bid her good luck with her musical program. She said she was happy to help another soul out and said she knew I would return the favor to someone else in need one day. As she drove away I couldn’t help but notice the bumper sticker on the back of her Rav4 reading: Namaste. In Yoga class we bow and say ‘Namaste’ to one another at the end of our class. It is a greeting that essential means that the spirit in me respects the spirit in you. I made a connection with the amazing spirit of a stranger that day, and my faith in humanity was renewed by her reaching out and respecting me as her fellow citizen.
After this little bump in my day, I vowed that I would take my bicycle to a local shop, have them fix my tire and show me, step-by-step how to successfully change a tire and outfit me with the essential tools needed for the job. I can proudly say that last night I successfully changed my flat tire in less than 12 minutes. Not too shabby for a rookie, eh?
Morals of the story:
- Be safe out there folks, take the proper precautions and educate yourself. Be prepared!
- When you are in a bind, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There really are good people out there!
- Don’t turn a blind eye to a fellow citizen in need, have the balls to help a brother or sister out. Kindness, pass it on.
Have you ever been in such a predicament? What did you do?