Saturday, May 05, 2007

Of reversable belts and tire tubes

Thursday was a hell of a day. It rained, I forgot my gaitors and my shoes and the feet in them got soaked on the way to and from work; it was cold, work was busy and I realized when I arrived at work that I had three client meetings scheduled and I had forgotten the belt to my pants.

The downside to not dressing at home.

At least the pants have a really high waist to 'em. Just call me poindexter. Or Woody - who, when I bemoaned my stupidity to him, pulled up his sweater, whipped off his belt and said "black or brown? hmmm...looks like brown". He then reversed the buckle from his black belt, whipped it to its brown nether region and handed it to me noting it was a good thing he wore a sweater that day.

Damn straight. Hell of a thing; thank you Woody.

On the way home, I stopped at the Chiropractor to have my hamstring stripped (if you know what I'm talking about, you KNOW what I'm talking about) loose from my sciatic nerve and swing by the pet food store to buy dog food. Yes; still raining and still cold.

The thing about rain is its adhesive quality. Small rocks, bits of glass, miscellaneous car parts; all remain glued to the road when your bike tire hits them. So rain inevitably leads to flat tires, as those little bits of debris fail to skitter loose when struck by bike tires. I was about 20 blocks from home when the back tire on my ten speed hissed flat. I had tools and a patch kit but no spare tube and patching road-tubes in the rain quickly illustrates its lubricating quality. Glue don't work in the wet, my friends. So, I wiped the water from my glasses and started jogging the bike home, cursing my darling baby's inability to drive the car to come pick my soggy ass up.

I was about six blocks from the house when an old pickup truck squealed to a halt on the far side of fourth street and an old flat-topped army drill sargeant of a man jumped out and hollared "need a TUBE?"

Dumbstruck, I nod...wondering what the hell he's talking about. Cognitive function had long since ceased at this point. He runs to the back of his pickup, opens the shell and rummages around in clinking bits for a moment or two. Then he comes running hell bent across the street and proudly hands me a Continental racing tube with a presta valve: the exact match for the tube currently lying flaccid in my back tire. He glances at my bike, notes the lack of quick-releases and barks: got a wrench. I nod yes. Hands me the tube - presta valve, remember, and barks again: got a REAL pump? I'm good now, in the conversation. I smile and nod once more. He nods back, turns around and marches back to his pickup. Tires squeal and he's gone.

I've been saved by the bike tube fairy. And he has a buzz cut and a whole lot of wrinkles.

My first thought is to get the bike home and fix it in the warm and dry. But no - you don't repay the bike fairy with that kind of pansy ingratitude. So I pulled out my tools and stripped 'er down on the spot, ignoring the (very wet, very large) dog poop I had apparently stepped in when I pulled off the sidewalk. My old Apollo isn't the easiest bike to change tubes on but I managed to get the job done before my fingers went completely numb and had the pride of riding my bike up to the front door.

Did 'er right; just the way the bike fairy would have wanted. You ride in crappy weather, be prepared to fix yer fricking bike in it too.

Day was a lot better after that - there are some great people out there and I look forward to paying some of that forward. Better start packing some extra tubes.

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