I usually start my days with a bike ride at the local greenway. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d been out on the bike, because NC was mysteriously transported to the surface of the sun, then to the bottom of a lake. Since I didn’t want to fry or drown, I hit the treadmill until the weather was once again compatible with human life.
I put air in my tires and oiled the chain, then loaded up the bike and headed out. I figured I’d be using some muscles today I hadn’t used in a couple of weeks, so I wasn’t surprised when, part of the way through the ride, I noticed that I was putting more effort than usual into it. I was just out of shape!
But it kept getting worse. As in, by the time I was coming back, I was nearly at a standstill at the top of some hills I didn’t usually have any trouble with. What was wrong with me?! Two weeks, and I’d lost a year and half’s worth of conditioning? That is so unfair!
By the time I reached level ground, I was basically ready to flop over the handlebars and beg passers-by to put me out of my misery. And speaking of level ground, why was I still having to put so much effort into pedaling?
Thinking maybe a brake caliper was stuck, I finally stopped and took a look at the bike. Specifically, at the rear wheel, which was flat as a pancake.
Turns out it wasn’t my muscles that were flabby, it was my brain.
At this point, I was about five miles away from my car. But I was in luck! I had a tire repair kit with me. Now, how to use it?
While I could have used it correctly, which means removing the tire, finding the hole on the inner tube, patching it, and getting the tire back on the rim, I doubted I could actually perform all those steps without screwing something up. The leak had been relatively slow, so maybe I could get by just using one of the CO2 cartridges to reinflate the tire and still make it back to my car.
So I took one of the cartridges, applied it as instructed to the valve stem, and let ‘er rip.
Things I learned about reinflating a tire with high-pressure CO2: hold onto the cartridge firmly, or it will come off the tire and shoot around your head like a deflating balloon that is made of steel and roughly shaped like a bullet.
But hurray, the tire was inflated! I jumped on the bike and broke all land speed records trying to get back to the car before it went flat again. Squirrels, bunnies, and joggers fled for their lives.
In the end, I made it back, and the nice men at the bike shop fixed everything up. No bunnies or squirrels were harmed, although some joggers may have flashbacks whenever they see a bike from now on.
I’d say I learned a valuable lesson about making sure the tire isn’t flat the next time I suddenly can’t peddle up a hill, but I try not to lie to you guys.
What about you? Have any stories about getting stranded someplace and having to get back to civilization? Exercise mishaps? Tell me all about it in the comments!