Sunday, August 30, 2009

In the Dark

I would like to start off this post by making a confession: I am a big dumb animal. I learn the hard way. Baptism by fire. This has made my life hard, but rewarding.

A couple of months ago I was tired of getting flat tires. I was flatting a couple of times a week. I learned you can put about 5-10 patches on an inner tube before it is done. I learned that RitcheySpeed-max 'cross tires are not even close to puncture resistant. So I reluctantly gave in and ordered some nice Michelin City tires with extra puncture resistance.

On this particular morning I was on my way to work when my light died. I was not far from the office when I ran through a patch of glass (clear glass is hard to see in the dark). It was at that point that I learned a valuable lesson, 5 layers of puncture protection are not a guarantee. I also learned another valuable lesson, one I have learned many times over, tools are good! I was sitting on the edge of the Petersburg Battlefield in the dark with no light, no tire lever, and a tire that is an extremely good fit. I tried brute strength, I tried sticks, and I tried crying (temporarily rescinding my “crying in the shower only” policy).

Then it occurred to me that the quick release skewer would make a good lever. So I wedged it in there, applied all of my brute strength and tears (I mean manliness), shredded the inner tube beyond repair, and the tire came off. Good old fashioned American ingenuity.
Later that day I was looking at my bike and noticed a strange bulge in the tire. In all of my efforts I had managed to rip about 2 inches of the bead off of the tire. That translated to $45 down the drain. Queue the tears. My wife was also thrilled that she had to load up 3 kids and pick me up after work.

These are the hard lessons learned. It takes less than one minute to inspect the tool kit I now carry everywhere; It took me 35 minutes to destroy a tire. Oddly enough, I have not gotten a flat since I carry the kit.

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