How many trips have you made to your local bike shop this summer for service on your bike? Today I made my eighth trip.
I can hear many of you saying, “Steve, you said you were through with this bike. All you needed to do was replace your inner tube and then you were going to sell it. What happened?” I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you.
My wife is a very caring person. She could see I was upset over yesterday’s flat tire. That doesn’t make her exceptional. An orangutan would have noticed I was upset. But she actually wanted to do something about it. She asked to go cycling with me today. She said she would enjoy it very much and she would sit with me while I fiddled with my bike to get it ready to go.
That was very nice of her. She’s the best!
So, I pulled out my bike and (sure enough) noticed the patch from yesterday wasn’t holding very well. It was down to 40 PSI – a slow leak. One of my wife’s friends from work mentioned to her that he regularly overinflates his tires and I thought it might be a good time to try this technique. Our planned ride was only about six miles and the extra bit of air might be enough to get me there and back again. In so doing, I laid the seeds of my own doom.
We got about 300 yards down the road when it happened: an incredibly loud explosion that brought neighbors to the street, fearing a gun battle had erupted in the middle of Labor Day suburbia. The tube was completely destroyed and wrapped around my axle and brake in such a way as to make it impossible to turn the wheel. I picked up my bike and carried it home.
Undaunted, my sainted wife suggested we replace this tube with a new one I bought this morning. It featured the Presta valve system, which I had never used before. This created about five minutes of merriment as my wife and I figured out how to use it. Before I put the tube on, I replaced the rubber rim liner with a cloth one I purchased earlier in the day. Having completed the repair, I rolled my bike out to start our ride for a second time. It was then that I discovered my tire was out of true.
Valiantly, my wife stuck with me. She helped me troubleshoot the problem. Having broken three spokes this summer, I am now an expert at finding them. All the spokes were ok. We double-checked the seating of the wheel to make sure I put it on properly after fixing the tire. No problems there. The only remaining possibility was some of the spokes were now loose. Lacking a truing standing and a spoke wrench, my wife and I gamely tried to adjust the spokes with a set of pliers. We didn’t make much progress.
For the eighth time this summer, I loaded the bike onto my bike rack (the best cycling investment I have ever made if only for the trips back to the shop!) and hauled it into Old Towne Bicycles. Sure enough, the problem was the spokes. That must have been one incredible inner tube explosion, because the wheel was massively out of true. The mechanic fixed my wheel, tinkered with my front and back brakes, and oiled my front axle for good measure.
When I returned home, I informed my wife that I was ready for Attempt Number Three. It had been over two hours since we originally attempted our short neighborhood pedal. She had changed into gardening clothes and informed me that (for some odd reason) she was not interested in going on a ride any longer.
And I don’t blame her one bit.