Last weekend, I packed myself up and headed out to White Rock Lake for a solo ride. I was feeling great – the weather was nice, I had a clean chain, and just knew I was going to put in some good miles.
Just 10 minutes into my ride, I could tell something was a off. I looked down and realized my front tire was so flat, I was almost riding on the rim.
Okay, here we can go. I can do this. I’ve taken a class and watched two people do this before. I have my gear bag. I got it! I pulled over and successfully took my front wheel off.
Look at me…changing a tire! Woo hoo!
I checked the tire. No visible punctures. Hmm. Maybe I just need to put some more air in?
Yeah, that’s the ticket! More air!
I pulled out my hand pump and started pumping.
Wait, which side of this thing do I use? Shit! No air is going into the tire. That can’t be right. Where’s my CO2 cartridge? Oh yeah…still in my car….
First rider passes and asks if I need help. I cheerily responded back – “I got it, thank you!” I resumed to staring at my pump and trying to figure it out before ultimately deciding to abandon that tactic.
Hmm. I think I take the tire off and inspect the tube. Yes – let’s take the tire off!
I reached into my gear bag and pulled out my tire lever.
Aww…look how cute and pink it is! Now how do I use this thing? I know it hooks under the tire and on a spoke, but which way does it go?
I fumbled around with my tire lever for a while before the doubts started creeping in.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I need to call someone. No, that’s embarrassing and will take forever for them to get here and I’m too impatient to wait. Maybe I should post on Facebook and ask for sag wagon help. No, that’s just as embarrassing and will also take a long time for a rescuer to come.
A second rider passes and asks if I need help. I spurted out – “I think I’m okay, thanks!” I went back to trying to use the lever.
WHY AREN’T YOU ATTACHING TO THE SPOKE, PINK LEVER!?
Okay, now I’m angry. I’m angry at my cute pink lever for not knowing how to function without me. I’m angry I’m sitting here on the ground like a doofus. And I’m angry my tire got a flat. I mean – who does my tire think he is? Mostly, I’m angry at myself for not being prepared.
Right at this time, I hear magical tunes approaching me. I turn around and a gentleman is riding towards me. He shouts – “Need any help?” Rather than pretending I was okay, I screamed “YES! PLEASE HELP ME!”
Pride be damned. I needed help.
My knight in a shining orange shirt blasting his tunes had arrived. He began asking me a series of questions. Do you have a pump? Did you check the tire? How did you get here? Where did you park? Do you know where (something undiscernible) lake is?
Umm…I have a pump. I apparently don’t know how to use it. I think I checked the tire. Uh, I rode said bike with busted tire here. I parked over yonder. And sure, I know where that lake is.
No I don’t. Aren’t we at a lake? I’m confused. And I look stupid. And he’s probably laughing at me on the inside. Shit!
He then proceeded to politely inform me of the superiority of his pump. I agreed. Hey – his was working so that was all I needed to see to know how bad ass it was. He also told me I needed two levers and not just one. I gave him my tube and stood idly by while he proceeded to replace my tube, pump it up, and attach my tire back to my bike. He smiled and waved as he rode off, and once again his tunes trailed away as my orange knight rode away.
At least I knew to pick up my discarded tube and not leave any trash on the ground. That’s a small victory, right?
My nerves were so shot when I got back on my bike. I debated continuing with my planned miles as I carefully pedaled on.
And then my chain starting getting caught with each rotation.
I’m over this. Abort mission. Get back to the car immediately.
I turned around and cautiously rode back to my car. I racked my bike and drove straight to the bike shop.
In the end, my tire had been changed properly (thanks orange shirt dude!) and I needed a small adjustment on my cable. No tune up or additional maintenance was needed. I was cleared to feel safe on my bike again.
I thought I was prepared to fix a flat, but clearly I was not. I plan on practicing changing my tire in my living room many times this off season until I become more comfortable. Next time, I want to be able to be the one that offers help rather than the one having a mild panic attack on the side of the road.