Sometime after I crossed Fort Lowell my trusty front tire suddenly, inexplicably went flat. It couldn't have come at a worse time (as if flat tires ever come at a good time).
When the wheel went flat, I was more concerned about whether my newly-installed, bike rack would collapse under the weight of my newly-purchased Timbuk 2 panniers. I was especially concerned about my panniers falling off since I installed the rack myself. My mechanical abilities rate somewhere around the talent level of Congressman Anthony Weiner's photography skills. Given the trouble he's in, I might actually be a more skilled mechanic.
Anyway, my first reaction was to panic. My mind immediately harkened back to the time I pathetically tried to change a flat tire on my pick-up somewhere in West Texas. After an hour of fooling around with Chevy's poor excuse for a car jack, the damn truck rolled off the jack and on to the ground. I was utterly mortified when the repair truck arrived and replaced the tire in under 15 minutes. If incompetence had a name that day, it was me.
This time, however, I was prepared for the happenstance. It was easy enough to get the front tire off since it was as flat as a pancake. But getting the tire off the wheel was a real bitch. Fortunately, I had plenty of tools and was actually well prepared to change the flat.
The back story is that when I first elected to take up riding, my good friend Ben insisted that I go to a bike store, and purchase an ungodly amount of supplies that I was sure I would never need. I ridiculed Ben mercilessly for making me waste my money on $ 4, Spin Doctor Tire levelers, and a pricey, mini-CO2 pump.
Today, I learned that I needed every single tool I bought, lo, so many weeks ago, right down to the tire levelers. Ben also patiently walked me through how to actually change a flat so I wasn't totally in the dark when the big day came.
I think I owe someone a beer.
The above photo was really all I had to work with, and it was absolutely all I needed - although I'll need a new tube since my spare is now on my tire.
This was the finished product. As you can see, Good as new.
In all, the flat set me back on about a half-hour on my commute. But I managed to arrive in plenty of time, and I had a new experience while biking.
I should also be quick to add how helpful my fellow cyclists were as they passed me going down Mountain. True, Mountain probably the most heavily-biked street in Tucson, Still, no less than two cyclists actually stopped to ask if I needed help, while many others slowed down to check on me before carrying on. I needed the experience of changing the flat myself, but it was nice to know that if I were really in a pinch, I could probably count on someone passing by to help me out.
And as corny as it sounds, the next time I pass a bike parked along the sidewalk, I'll probably check and see if they need help. Just in case.