Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Flat Tires

About 11 miles into my long ride this weekend, I had a flat tire. It was barely light, and I was about 7 miles away from the nearest town.

When you make the leap from casual, around-town rider to distance rider, a lot of things become important that you never had to worry much about before. One of my biggest concerns back then was flat tires. When I rediscovered cycling in my early 20’s, on my first trips to and from neighboring towns along country roads I began to dread the day I’d pop an inner tube. I had visions of being stranded in 100 degree heat struggling to get a tire off the rim, patching the tube in some manner, wrestling it back on, and somehow reinflating it. Of course, one day, POW!, it happened. As with a lot of things in life, the actual event was a lot less dramatic than I had imagined it might be. It didn’t go fast, but, I was also done before any search and rescue parties had to be called out.

Technology has changed a lot of things, including cycling. Nobody really patches inner tubes anymore. You usually just carry a spare tube and switch it out. There are also all kinds of gizmos to help you get the tube and tire on and off the wheel pretty painlessly. Nifty inflators of compressed CO2 gas fill your tires in no time. For those times when you also blow out your spare tube (it’s happened to me a couple of times) there are …… cell phones. I’ve made my share of “pick me up” calls to my wife, brother, father, mother, and police.

Each time I have a flat, I get a little faster at making the repair and getting back on the road and with a lot less stress, able to regain my focus and regroup for the remainder of the ride. In working with a child with developmental delays, we’ve had our share of flat tires / rough periods. Each time one occurs though, I think we (parents and child) are able to work through it quicker, regroup, and get headed back in the direction we need to go. You gain experience from each challenge, and that experience helps you more effectively deal with the next one that might be around the corner.

Flat tires…..not a problem. However, our son’s primary speech therapist asked if I was worried about snakes on the MAC Ride……..I guess that was something I hadn’t really thought of…..

Enjoy the weather!