Friday, May 28, 2010

Ride to Work / Work to Ride

So it was Bike to Work Week. And I celebrated by riding to work for a change. Actually it rained on Monday and Tuesday. That was ok. I braved the mighty Southern California storm, getting moist on the front side of my body while the back remand fairly dry - not quite sure how that works but it was a bit wet on those days.

Thursday dawned with all of the promise we come to expect from the greatest state in the the Union. I was feeling rather flushed with the prospect of the culmination of Ride Your Bike to Work Week at hand. To continue this story we need to rewind a few days to last Thursday, when I noticed my front tire was running a bit low. I pumped it up on the way home, but found it to be almost flat in the morning. I have been rolling on 23mm "Specialized Armadillo Technology" tires and had not had single flat since I put them on the bike eight months ago. That is great and I think they are excellent tires. The down side with these tires is they wear out after a few thousand miles and my rear tire was showing the red casing all down the middle. I was thinking, yeah I will take care of that later. It turned out that my leak was due to a faulty valve on the tube. I put on my spare tube, and that was that. Flash forward to Sunday and I am riding over to meet my beautiful wife Mimi at a "Healthy Lifestyles Festival" in Manhattan Beach when I hear cathuckity thuckity thuckity from my rear wheel. This is what i found:

So of course I had used my spare tube two day earlier and had not made it to the bike shop for another. I walked my bike over to my LBS, got one tube (why only one? just a dork I guess) and put it on.

Flash forward to this Thursday, Bike to Work Thursday. My smugness quotient was peaking as I packed my work clothes and whatever into my bottomless Ortlieb pannier. I set out as usual and as I reached what is just about the half way point on the ride, I felt a strange lumpa lumpa feeling from the rear wheel. So there I am at Dockwieler Beach, not far from the stinking RV camp with the jets going overhead, about as far from a bike shop or anything as I ever am as ride to work. The bike dork with his bottomless bag of tricks should have what it takes for this situation. He is a seasoned commuter. He knows better than to ride without a spare tube, or at least a patch kit, tools and a pump. Oops.

So here it is: you might recall few months back I stopped to help another cyclist with a flat only to find my tube of glue totally useless. Since my Armadillo tires seemed so invincible I had not bothered to get more glue. Result: no tube, no patch. 23mm tires require a lot of pressure at least 100 psi. if you get a puncture the air goes out quick. There was still a little air left so I tried my crappy $12 Performance Cycle pump. The nozzle fell apart rendering it useless. At this moment I get a text from Mimi saying "It's bike to work day" Texted back my situation. "Do I need a ride?" "No"

I started walking. I enjoy walking, but riding is better. I walked to Playa Del Rey. I figured I would walk to the bike shop on Lincoln in Marina Del Rey a few miles and then I would only be a little late for work. Passing through the area where some folks park to use the beach, or fish off the bridge, or ride the bike path; a fellow sitting in his car called out "Hey mon what happened to your bike?". I looked over at a guy sitting in his car with cycling gear, some sort of rejuvenating beverage concoction in a tupperware container in hand and dreads. He was all sweaty. "I flatted" "Here mon, can ya use this?" he pulls out a spare tube and a pump. As I walked over to his car, I noticed a sharp looking Italian road bike in the back.

I thanked him, and set to work changing out the tube. As I worked we talked cycling. His name is Alex and he is from the Virgin Islands. Wheel off, tire off, tube out, check tire, tube in. As I am inflating the freshly changed tube, I suddenly hear "tsssssss". "What happened mon?" The dork that I am, I was so busy chatting with my new friend that I forgot to check if the tube was seated properly and I had left a section of tube pinched between the bead of the tire and the rim. At this moment as I am standing there in utter disgust and embarrassment, all my gear, tools, upside-down bike spread out on the side of the road.

At this moment another cyclist totally kitted out on a brand new full carbon BMC enters stage right. He slows and loops back. "So what's the problem here?" I explained the situation with some shame. He responds, "My ex-wife got a flat on her bike, she called AAA." "Mon, did they come?" "I don't know, she's my ex-wife" He proceeded to grab the wheel out of my hand and berate me as he fixed my tire, providing me with yet another tube, As he was working I asked "What do you do for a living bust people's chops?" "I am a freelance movie producer." "That totally figures." "See this is why the big boys use full finger gloves" he said as he pushed the tire into place without any tools. He used his CO2 inflator and within 4 minutes he was done. "Your tire is shot you need to go out and buy three tires and four tubes, rotate your tires as they wear, and always carry a tube." All I could do was nod and thank him.

He took off, I thanked Alex again and offered a few bucks for the waisted tube. "No man, it's cool. You can help some one. What comes around goes around." Put put my bike back together and made it to work without further incident. As an epilogue to this tale I went to REI and used my dividends for a new set of 28mm Continental Gatorskin Tires. 28mm is for sure the way to go much smoother ride.

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