Feeling Flat

I’ve ridden a road bike for years.  You know, the ones with skinny tires that go zoom on asphalt and go splat on gravel.  I’ve always been a slow rider but friends and colleagues don’t know that. They think of me as a cyclist/athlete.

They also don’t know that I’ve never really figured out how to change a flat tire.  Two days ago, I felt ta-pocketa’s back tire before heading out on the roads … and it was indeed flat.  (Fear)  With a moderate lack of intelligence, I pumped up the tire to 110 psi and took off.  I told myself that there was an intersection about a kilometre away and I’d stop there and check the pressure again. Which I did.  Soft.  Amazed at my avoidance of reality, I turned around and went home.  (I’ll fix it tomorrow)

Tomorrow came and went and I stayed away from my bicycle. (Fear)

This afternoon, I reasoned that if I didn’t handle my distress about this, I’d turn into an indoor-type guy.  So I sidled up to ta-pocketa and felt her rear tire.  Flat.  (I don’t know what to do)

Tire levers.  Find the little plastic things that pry the tire off the rim.  Check. Dig into the bike box and grab a new inner tube.  Check.  (I don’t know what to do, and I should know what to do)

I did remember to put on nitrile gloves so my hands wouldn’t get gooped with oil when taking the rear wheel off.  (Maybe I’m an okay person after all) Fumbled around for ten minutes trying to extricate the wheel from ta-pocketa.  (Why can’t you remember this stuff?)  Finally done.

I grappled and groaned with the levers until the tire was off the rim, exposing the inner tube.  (Surely you didn’t have to take the tire completely off the rim.  Aren’t you just supposed to peel one side all the way around? Geez – what would a real cyclist think of you?)

Used my floor pump to inflate the inner tube.  (I can’t find any leak.  There should be a leak)  Remembered a friend telling me to submerge the tube in water and look for bubbles.  (You shouldn’t have to rely on a friend for basic information like that)  Bubbles.  Definitely a tiny leak.

I inserted the valve stem of a new inner tube into the rim and tried to reattach the tire, cramming the tube inside.  (This can’t be right.  What are you forgetting?  And why are you so stupid?)

Now half an hour into the job and about a century away from completion. (Pushing blindly ahead doesn’t work.  Do something different)  So I went back inside and watched two YouTube videos on the subject.  (Okay, that was a pretty good idea)

“Make sure you inflate the new inner tube a little, until it’s round.  Makes it easier to work with.”  (Oh)  “When you’re seating the tire back on the rim, start at the valve stem, pushing with your thumbs all the way around, using the lever at the end if the last section is really tight.”  (Oh.  You should already know this stuff, Bruce)

Fifteen minutes later … done.  (Really?  I did that?)  Lifted the derailleur just so and lowered the wheel into its slots, except that it wouldn’t go all the way in.  (Now what did you miss?)  Removed the wheel from the bike and took a look at how the tire was sitting on the rim.  There was a bulge right near the valve stem.  (Are you blind or what?)  Used the lever to take one side of the tire off the rim.  Took the inner tube right out.  Reinflated it a bit.  Stuck it back in with more care than before.  Started pressing with my thumbs to reseat the tire, this time starting at the valve stem.  Slowly.  Reassessed after a few inches.  No bulge.  Tire firmly seated all around the rim.  Pumped it up. Still good.  Delicately replaced it on ta-pocketa.  Really done.  (What a good boy am I)


Okay, this constant self-evaluation is exhausting.  For one thing, it creates far too many brackets in print.  What the heck happened to my Buddhism, my equanimity, my lovingkindness directed within?  I don’t know.  Guess they got lost along the way.


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