Feeling Flat

The last thing I wanted to do this morning was to wake up at 5am for my bike ride to the pool, but I did it anyway. I didn’t so much struggle with myself as I was simply resolved to the fact that I have to go in order to get into Ironman shape. As always, I took too long to get ready in the morning, but part of today’s reason was the extra preparation I needed to take to deal with the rain outside my door.

I broke out with my 15 year old rain gear. I never like wearing it, because inevitably I am still soaking wet by the time I take it off. I am not sure if that’s because the rain leaked through or I just get extra sweaty from wearing it. The rain jacket had a foul order about it, perhaps from being stuffed in a draw for so long or maybe from old sweat. It seemed to be working well this morning as I felt mostly dry for the first few miles of my ride.

It was raining pretty steadily, but I was comfortable and feeling ok. After 16 minutes I had made my turn to get onto the Manhattan Bridge when I felt my rear wheel sort of slip out from under me. Within about 30 more yards I realized I had a flat tire. Fortunately I was right under the bridge when the flat happened, so I had shelter from the rain in order to change it.

I’ve written about being around this area of the Manhattan Bridge during the hours of darkness. Being at this location when it is still relatively dark and in the pouring rain really does give the whole area a post-apocalyptic feel. The noise here is thunderous from the passing trains overhead and the rumbling trucks on the expressway and street. Hanging around this area in these conditions is like being in a scene from a Terminator movie.

I hate changing flat tires in the rain. The tires and wheels get so wet and dirty that it is impossible to get a good grip on anything or make sure you clear out the offending item that punctured your tube. I pressed my lap timer to see how long I would take to fix the flat and then got to work.

The entire sequence of fixing the flat had a surreal and dreamlike quality. Water was pouring down the walls of the MB overpass, causing giant streams to flood all around me. I was able to find a dry patch of ground to take off my garment bag panniers and set my bike upside down to remove the rear wheel. I only had one tire lever to pull off the tire. Fortunately it came of rather easily. I didn’t find anything poking through the tire and I set the new tube in place. The tire was stubborn in going back on. I wished I had a second tire lever to assist me. Every time I got one side on the opposite side would pop off the rim. Finally, it was back in place and I used a mini pump to inflate the tube. I wish I had packed a CO2 charger, since it took forever to pump it up to an acceptable level.

Once the bike was back together and I re-hitched my panniers, I notice that my watch read 18 minutes. For a second I thought it took me only 2 minutes to change fix the flat and I felt momentary surprise and happiness. This is when my dreamlike state end and I quickly realized that it was my lap timer showing 18 minutes, not the total time. It was also now pouring rain. I was worried about continuing on, since I was afraid the panniers would soak through and my laptop would get wet. Even if I continued onto the pool, I would hardly have time to get in a swim. The pool closes at 8am to switch configuration and I wouldn’t make it in until well after 7am. Rather than risk another flat (for which I had no additional spare), I decided to just head home and play it safe. At least I’d be able to see my kids before they headed off for school. I’ll just have to get a run in later.

Post Script: I had taken a couple of pictures of myself under the bridge in the pouring rain, which I intended to post to this entry. However, on my way to work by subway later on, I lost my camera cell phone. My annoyance wasn’t so much that I lost the phone, but more because I lost the pictures I took with it.

Fortunately, when I called the phone someone answered it and we arranged for its return. While it was missing though, I sent a command to it so that all my personal contact information would be erased, in the event that the person wasn’t an upstanding citizen. This apparently erased all of my photos as well. Ugh!

1 comment

1 Brooklyn { 05.16.06 at 8:01 pm }

“ultra-urban” I call it.

I’ve never had to change my tire on the run; only did it at home, but didn’t need tire irons – didn’t have any anyways. Just pressed the thing on and off with my hands. So much easier than a motorcycle tire…