The discombobulated ride we did the other day actually started a week or so earlier. My best friend, Jason, had just purchased new tires for his road bike. We did one of our favorite loops, and – shortly before we had arrived back at his house – a shotgun-like blast rang out and his tire was flat. There was no warning, and we saw nothing that he had run over.
Fast forward about a week later (just the other day), and we set out to do that same loop. He had put a brand new tube in and was feeling confident enough in it that he decided to bring only a patch kit (instead of an entire tube). Fortunately, I had an entire tube in my saddle bag. It wasn’t long into our ride when the shotgun fired again. The tire was flat – and his patch kit probably wouldn’t have helped.
This flat occurred in a residential neighborhood. As we stopped to assess the damage, we knew that a new tube would be needed. It turns out that the brand new tires he purchased had a defective edge on it – causing the metal along the exterior to dig into the tube. The only option we had at the time was to replace the tube with my spare – and use his as a protective barrier against the metal part of his new tire.
We debated whether or not to continue on our usual loop and come over the mountain. Wisely, we decided we should alter the route to include the bike shop so that he could stop in and get some help there. Fortunately, they were kind enough to replace the entire tire with a new one. “Every once in awhile,” the shop rep said, “we get one with a defective part.”
Of course it’s our luck to be that “once in awhile.” However, that’s really not the point of this post. As the title suggests, this post is about the task of blowing up a new tube along the side of the road – and doing it with poise.
In our many years of cycling, we have concluded that there really is no way to use a hand-powered pump to pump up a new tube along the side of the road – especially when you’re a grown man in spandex. Think about it…… When you’re sitting on the side of the road (especially where there is a lot of traffic OR in a residential neighborhood), there is not a good way to position yourself with your detached wheel and a hand pump and – with dignity – proceed to pump quickly and furiously.
You can’t really sit with your legs crossed and the wheel in your lap while pumping. If you turn your back to the traffic, it just might be worse. It goes without mentioning (though I will) that you can’t have your buddy hold the tire while you pump (or vice versa). Any of these are sure to get passers-by to phone in lewd behavior to the local police. Next thing you know, you’re picked up by the closest cruiser – and you spend time explaining to a skeptical cop that you were simply inflating your tire (think the rest stop scene in Something About Mary).
In the mountains, I admit, it doesn’t take long for one (or all) of your cycling buddies to seize the moment to make inappropriate jokes. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve all been there and have a mutual understanding of how wrong this just looks. Maybe it’s just because we’re in a more natural habitat among the untamed animals that this isn’t nearly as bad. Maybe…….no – it’s just the fact that it looks wrong.
I suppose we could invest in those CO2 pumps. That way, we could just do a quick push of a button and be done with inflation. They just seem so wasteful – and, I do have to admit, it does take the fun out of picking on each other in the woods. I suppose this would give Jason a good reason to say that we should just stick to mountain biking (but don’t tell him that).
So, if you were looking for the lifelong answer to pumping up your tire with poise, I don’t really have a good answer. I guess you just have to hope for a flat at a time where you can duck into the woods (or behind a parked car) so that no one can see what you’re doing. That’s the only way to do so with poise.
If you have any better ideas, feel free to share them.