You may recall a recent post or two about my latest hobby, riding my mountain bike with hybrid tires, wherein I have taken a tumble or two and waxed eloquent on the joys of exercise.
It is great exercise, and just the thing to clear the mind of various confusing academic concepts.
What you haven’t heard about is the 38 flat tires I’ve experienced over the last 3 months or so. My mentor, Pedicabman, took me under his wing after the first flat, and gave me the full monty on how to fix the boogers. Which was a relief, since I didn’t want to spend that $10 at the local bike shop every time I ran over a thorn. A spare tube, a neat little tire tool, a tire patch kit, and I was ready to strike out on my own. Total investment….under $10.
The bike shop guys were happy to sell me the gear, and seemed slightly warmer, as if thinking that maybe the old guy was really going to get into the bike thing.
Soon, I was dropping into the bike shop and asking other questions. How to fix a slipping chain, or how should I clean the gears, could you untwist the bead on this tire that I really screwed up, and, maybe, how much for a new set of tires? Soon I, or rather, the bike, was shod in new shoes that would give me more speed on the road while holding up to the stresses of the greenway (my favorite ride of all!). It was getting positively friendly in the ole bike shoppe.
But with the new tires came the aforementioned rash of flats. Bike lore, or shop talk, or superstition…whatever, informs that each tube in each tire can only be patched twice before it must be cast on the rubbish heap of history. After the 3rd or 4th visit (I’d lost track of the tube purchases by now), and subsequent series of flats, I took the unusual step of taking my entire rear wheel into the shop where I could show the boys my problem. What about these holes in the tires? The tubes must be getting shredded because of the holes. Do I need a new tire after just 3 months?
It was at this moment that I was admitted to the inner sanctum. My friend, the manager, took me aside and advised that what I really needed was a tire liner. You see, they make a thick liner that sits between the delicate tube and the exodermic tire…a penetration of the tire is caught by the liner, thus sparing the tube from the insult of penetration. A beautiful concept, for which I gladly forked over the $19.99.
In the warm afterglow of the exchange, I murmured to my friend that I appreciated his help. I admitted that it has been a long journey, learning to ride and care for my bike, but the pleasures of the experiences vastly outweigh the pains. Why, I wondered, didn’t more bike riders buy the liner? His laughing response was that most folks just want to drop off their bikes, with flats, and spend the $10 or so for his guys to do the work. I shared the laugh, and cast a knowing glance in his direction. I had been given a secret, something that I had to earn, but whose possession invited me into the inner spoke of bicycle knowledge.