Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not to be overshadowed by Ironman -- a milestone of a different kind

I know how to change a flat, sort of. I mean, I've seen it done a few times. I know the steps. But technically I've never actually changed my own flat.

I know...avid cyclists everywhere are cringing. Yes, its horrible. Yes, I'm that girl that got a flat on a ride and called her boyfriend to come pick her up. I'm an embarrassment to women cyclists everywhere. ......though I know I'm not the only one out there -- you know who you are miss "i got a flat before a race in which I podiumed but had to rely on the mercy of the woman next to me in transition to change my tube out before the race"...... :)

I tried to change a flat on the hybrid once way back in the dawn of my cycling career....I was using an air compressor to blow up the newly reassembled tire and, well, it BLEW UP alright, making me violently aware of the definition of "pinch flat". I thought I was going to be permanently hearing impaired and I'm pretty sure the neighbors thought someone had just been shot. I promptly piled the bike in the car and paid $10 to have my friendly bike shop correct the problem. And that was the last time I attempted a flat change.

So when Chrissy and I met up in the parking lot a while back for a ride and found her tire to be flat in a way that pumping wouldn't fix, we had quite a conundrum on our hands. Chrissy being of equal experience in the flat changing arena and there being no bike shop in the town we rode from. It was either fix the flat ourselves or skip the ride.

The day was way too beautiful to skip the ride. I'm quite sure, had we given up on the ride that day, the cycling gods would have cursed us with rain and perpetual headwinds from there to eternity.

So we set to the work of flat changing, armed with a new tube, a little never-been-used plastic do-jobber that was in my seat bag, and one pink bicycle pump. You can quite imagine the dialogue and scene that followed. Something like a sequel to Legally Blond....Elle Woods takes on cycling, conquers the world, and learns something in the process -- all without breaking a nail. Though in this sequel there was no need to call in the emergency sorority support crew.

We were determined as we got comfortable on the pavement and set to work, but things didn't start well. We both took a try at getting the tire off with the little tool and were failing miserably.
Are we really this wimpy?

Chrissy: "aren't there supposed to be more of these little tools?"

Me: "uhh, I think there were three but that seemed a little excessive so I only put one in my bag. Was that a mistake?"

Both shrugging. Who knows?

Chrissy: "maybe we should let the air out of the tire"

Me: "oh yea....I think that's right.....less pressure should make it easier"
($100k science education comes in handy, eh)


There were a few more ah-ha moments like this as the process went along....and a few very contortionistic arm-tire-tube entanglements but we finally got the tube changed and the tire back on.

Then we stared at it.

"Do we dare blow it up? What if there's a pinch flat?"

More staring.

"Well, we've gotta try. I've got another tube if we blow this one up."

Shockingly, no explosive pinch flatting. Even more shocking were the two test loops around the parking lot without the need to fix our fixed flat. In disbelief we discuss the possibility that we actually just successfully changed a flat. And then tentatively, we head out on what was to be a beautiful 20-some mile ride.

And I am SO PROUD of us! That was quite an empowering little exercise.

I just feel bad for the guys at the bike shop....they are really going to miss me.

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