The military theorist Karl von Clausewitz called it “Friction,” stating that everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Some people call it, “Murphy’s Law,” which states that anything that can go wrong, does.
I think a popular bumper sticker puts it best: Stuff Happens.
(note, I have made a slight editorial change to this phrase in the interest of civility).
Close followers of my odometer will note that the count hasn’t risen rapidly as of late. Long hours at work, family chores, and inopportune rain storms have colluded to keep me off my bike far more than I would have liked. Stuff happens. I was excited to jump on first thing Saturday morning for a fast time trial. After raining throughout the night, the skies parted and the temperature was fantastic. All was well and I was making a very respectable 18.5 mph pace through the hillier portion of the ride.
I flatted five miles into the ride after attempting to ride over a significant amount of gravel at a road intersection. I was forced into this area by a car which was moving alongside me at precisely the worst possible moment. I could have slowed and swerved around the gravel, but I was pushing a personal best pace and didn’t want to give in. In the midst of the gravel, I hit a particularly large stone with my front tire and within seconds knew that I was doomed.
Abandoning hope for a personal best, I set about replacing my inner tube. I was very proud of myself for being fully prepared for this event. I had a spare tube and a CO2 cartridge which I have been lugging about for over a year without an opportunity to use. I even brought some Gatorade to sate my thirst when I normally wouldn’t bother for a short 17 mile ride. I had my cell phone and my ziplock bag with $5 (although I couldn’t imagine what use that would be just yet). I felt fully prepared to take on this job.
And everything went exceptionally well. Regular readers will recall how difficult my Conti 4S tires were to put on. After several months of use, they were much easier to remove. I put the new tube on and inflated the tire with my super cool CO2 cartridge (which really is fun to use) and in ten minutes I was ready to hit the road again.
At this point, experienced cyclists would simply have continued on their ride, slightly more sweaty and greasy but proud of themselves for having completed a repair while on the road. A little voice inside of me told me to not do this and to head home. I rarely listen to this voice despite its excellent track record but this time I did. Very shortly, I was very happy to have done so.
As I pedaled home, I contemplated my damaged tire and tried to decide if I needed to discard it. I could see the torn fabric on the left side as the tire spun. Soon, the tear became a bump in the tire. A few hundred feet further and the bump became huge, so large that the tire was no longer on the rim for about three inches. I stopped and inspected the problem. The damaged side wall was no longer able to handle the pressure of the inner tube and had given way. I set the bike on some grass to begin another temporary fix, except the force of the bike hitting the ground (it’s not like I slammed it or anything – I just picked it up and set it down again) caused the inner tube to burst with the sound of a shot-gun, which reverberated through the quiet morning hours.
I was less than a mile from home, so I took off my shoes and began walking. Along the way, I met a nice man who inquired about cycling as a hobby and despite my condition he remained very interested in my thoughts and encouragement. In a short while I was home and planning my next trip to the LBS for inner tubes.
Here’s hoping not much stuff happens tomorrow.