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!