A Thanksgiving Cycling Adventure

Apparently I am doomed to have one of these adventures at least once a year (click here to read last year’s episode). I was riding happily along, enjoying the warm day (it was probably in the mid 50s when I was riding, although it’s since gotten up into the 60s) when I noticed a bunch of glass on the road, and I was riding right through it. It was too late to do anything, so I kept riding, hoping I’d get lucky.

I didn’t. I got a flat right away, and so I settled in to change it, very grateful it was so warm. I thought I was doing a good job — I got the wheel off quickly (the back one, unfortunately, which is much more complicated to change), got the tire off with a minimum amount of trouble, and pulled the tube out. I knew that I needed to check the tire carefully to make sure the glass wasn’t still there, ready to cause a new flat. I found the place in the tube where the puncture was, found the corresponding place on the tire, and saw that there was no glass remaining. So I was good to go. I got the new tube in and the tire back on, and pulled out my CO2 cartridge. Now I haven’t quite gotten the hang of those things; I always seem to waste a bunch of the CO2, or fail to use the whole cartridge. This time was similar — I got some air into the tube, but it wasn’t a whole lot. I thought it would be enough to get me home, though — I was about 5 miles away — and so I set off.

But the air pressure seemed really low, distressingly low, and so I stopped, pulled out my second CO2 cartridge, and thought I’d try again. Maybe between two cartridges, I would be able to get enough air into the tube. I filled up the tube pretty well this time, and set off once again.

But soon enough I noticed the air pressure getting low again. I realized what I’d done — I’d failed to get all the glass out of the tire and had caused myself a second flat. Now I was really in trouble. I had some CO2 left in the second cartridge, but I didn’t know how much, and I had no bike pump.

At this point I did something silly — and I’m a bit embarrassed to tell it: I began to think that maybe I’d put the wrong tube back in the tire, that maybe I’d accidentally grabbed the one that was originally in the tire, thinking it was the new one. This was highly unlikely, but I was grasping at straws, hoping I could figure something, anything out. I get a little panicky when this sort of thing happens and I don’t always think straight. As I didn’t have anything to lose at this point, I pulled the wheel and tire off again and checked the tubes. I discovered I was right the first time. The problem really was that I’d ruined the second tube, as well as the first one.

So I assembled the tube, tire, and wheel again, resigned to walking home or riding some of the way home on a flat tire, when a woman asked me if I needed help. She surprised me, as I hadn’t noticed her approach; she was out running and had just caught up to me. Thank God! It looked like I might not have to walk after all. I was on a busy street with lots of traffic, but I hate the thought of waving people to stop so I can ask for help; I would have preferred to walk the whole way (on my stiff-soled cycling shoes). But if someone volunteered??

I asked if she had a cell phone, thinking that I could call Hobgoblin to come get me, but she didn’t have one on her. Instead, since her house was just up the road (lucky me!), she offered to run home and fetch her cell for me. So we arranged that I would walk the half mile or so while she ran home to get the cell and that I’d meet her at the end of her driveway. When Hobgoblin didn’t answer the phone, I figured he was out on his own bike ride, but the woman had already offered to give me a ride home, and I gratefully accepted.

On the way there, in one of those odd coincidences, we discovered that she works at the university where I used to work. We didn’t know each other, though.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I’m very thankful for the kind people who offer me help when I do stupid things on my bicycle! Last year it was construction workers and this year a marathon runner and former work colleague. Thank you kind strangers!

12 Comments

Filed under Cycling

12 responses to “A Thanksgiving Cycling Adventure

  1. How nice! Too bad about the glass. I think up here there is no official responsibility for it, though the police will sometimes sweep it off the road.

  2. Glad to hear you experienced the kindness of a stranger, who turned out not to be a stranger. Happy Thanksgiving, to you and Hobgoblin.

  3. So glad to hear you were rescued! I would have panicked much worse than you did – AND you ended up with a fantastic Thanksgiving story!

  4. What a heart-warming story to read first thing in the morning. I’m glad you met someone so kind. We hear so many bad things about people but Bernard Levin (whose columns were as good as essays any day) always held out that at least nine out of ten people were good guys, we just didn’t hear about them. Thank you for celebrating one of them.

  5. verbivore

    How very nice of a perfect stranger! I love stories like this – makes me remember how nice people can be. Glad you got home safe and sound.

  6. SFP

    That’s a wonderful Thanksgiving story. I’m glad getting a flat led you to meet a good person. Maybe your paths will cross again.

  7. There truly is so much to be thankful for. Glad you got a willing offer of assistance.

    I also could never master the CO2 cartridges. I currently carry a pump that doesn’t weigh much more than a cartridge and can generate an infinite supply of air pressure.

    Clearing all the material from a puncture can be a hassle. I had a similar occurrence when I lived outside of San Jose. I cut across a section of grass and picked up about a hundred burs per tire. I “cleaned out” the tires, put in new tubes, aired’em up and hit the road. A mile later my tires were both flat: many spikes from the burs still remained in the tires.

    Looking forward to your story next T-Day. :)

  8. What a great story. Yay for the kindness of strangers. It sort of restores my faith in humanity when things like this happen.

  9. Sorry to hear your ride was ruined. But it is always nice when people generously offer to help out. I hate to admit that a lot of times I expect the worst out of people, and then someone comes along and changes my opinion! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving anyway!

  10. Sylvia — I have no idea who is responsible for dealing with glass here — it does tend to disappear though, thank goodness.

    Craig — I’m lucky, I think; I rarely run into glass — but it’s going to get me now and then.

    Thank you Charlotte! Yes, I was very fortunate to run into somebody so kind!

    Litlove — I suppose I’ve sort of gotten used to this kind of thing, or my panic would have been worse than it was — and I was only five miles from home, which, while far enough, is walkable. Still — it’s not fun!

    Ann — I think Levin’s idea is probably right; I’ve met so many great people while out riding — I’ve gotten help from many, so I’m grateful to get the chance to return it, when I can.

    Verbivore — yeah — probably the mean people get too much attention and they make us forget that there are tons of nice people out there!

    SFP — it’s highly likely I’ll see her again, actually, as I ride and she runs on the same road. Perhaps I’ll be able to help her out next time! (Not that I want anything to go wrong for her …)

    Bikkuri — wow, there’s not much you can do with so many burs! Just buy a new tire, I suppose. I do have a small pump, but I haven’t been using it — I see that now is the time to begin!

    Stefanie — yeah, and these kind of things should get more attention, and I do think they happen often.

    Danielle — rides get ruined now and then, and there’s just nothing to be done about it — at least it doesn’t happen too often! But I’ve come to expect that it will happen now and then, and so I just hope for the best (which in this case happened!).

  11. hepzibah

    what a wonderful thanksgiving journey! I enjoyed reading this, and I’m glad you made it home, hopefully in time for lunch :)

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