Air Apparent


Flat back tire.

We had Monday off for Presidents Day and so Tuesday felt like Monday and it was the beginning of the work week so I take off on my morning commute and I’m about 2 miles from my house near the church with the substantial parking lot. As I crossed the busy intersection it sounds like a small train is behind me and of course I have a flat. I stop at the church which is weirdly THE PLACE where my last two flats have been and I call my husband who thankfully comes to my rescue to deliver me to school to still be early. He also trasports my bike to the shop to have the flat fixed and get the liners to help with this in the future.

It was a construction staple that took us down. I hate those things. How can something so small be so hideous and flatten an otherwise perfect morning? This is why people don’t ride or want to ride. They hate flats and they are terrified they will be helpless by the side of the road in a church parking lot waiting for help. Plus it’s a staple and those are supposed to bind, to keep things together and yet the irony is that it punctured my beautiful nubby tires and pierced the tube so much that it will need to be replaced. I have had so many flats over the years and it’s always the same story. Some little thing topples the plan. I’ve fixed some but mostly I prefer a mechanic to do it becuase they are fast and far more adept at it.

Constrution staple.

I should have taken the side road I chide myself. I wanted to but I thought since the roads were a tad icy that maybe I should stay on the main drag and this is the thanks I get. By the time my husband gets to me I am as deflated as my tire but I’m also feeling like the day is doomed.

By the time you are 2 miles into a ride, you’re IN! The cold air is bracing and yet you are out there doing it and feeling all the feels and I’m listening to a new book and all is well with my soul as the spiritual hymn says.

I see our little red electric mini turn into the parking lot and we load my bike on the rack. We are quiet on the drive just thinking about what needs to get done and still sort of waking up and considering more coffee but don’t want to take the time to stop. How do I not have protective tire liners and how can such a small staple kill my tire? I’ll get to school still early enough that no one would know my drama. I’m pondering the list of things I need to do to pump up my morning, but all in all, the tire is what’s on my mind. The tire and the concept behind a spare because this is my second tire incident in the new year.

About two weeks ago a colleague of mine and I were heading north to Olympia, Washington, the State capitol to testify and meet with legislators about some House and Senate bills. It’s called Legislative Day and it’s such a great experience. This is the second time I’ve participated. It’s invogorating to meet with representitives and senators about what concerns you and how you want them to vote on bills.

Olympia, Washington-Capitol Building

But on the car ride we both had a first time experience with car tires. CARS! She was driving and it sounded like a train was behind us. The freeway does run parallel to the tracks but the sound was deafening. It was as if the train was tailgating us. Do you have a flat? What does a flat on a car even sound like I remember thinking. The thumping, rock tumbler, gravel grating was a roar I’ve never heard before. I am old and I have never experienced a car flat. I don’t know anything about car tires except that they use the Schrader valve (same as some bikes).

I checked the passenger side mirror and no, it was not a flat on that side of the vehicle. It was the driver side.

Car flat.

Now, we’re both librarians and we know things but this is not an area of expertise for either of us. We’re bookish women, who are teachers and feminists and we do it ourselves but we don’t know how. We could get a YouTube video, but there’s the whol jack thing, right? Where does that even go? We’ve never been here before so maybe we do need some assistance. She checks on the spare and I head into the quickie mart to see if someone could talk us through it. Just before I open the doors there’s a woman putting oil in her engine and we catch eachother’s eye.

Candace teaching us about the jack.

Hey, would you be willing to help a couple of library women learn how to change a car tire. Sure she says as if it’s really is all an adventure. I’d love to! Wow, I think, we’ve hit the lottery! Her name is Candace and she drives a truck and she helps us with the jack which frankly looks like it couldn’t lift a 4th grader let alone a 5000 pound SUV.


Typically cyclists don’t have a spare tire in the same way you do on a car. Just sitting back there in the boot waiting for it’s occasion of glory. The moment the understudy in the theater of transportation comes onstage to take its turn. Having a patch kit, or a spare tube or CO2 or a packable, yet highly rated pump to save the day isn’t even close, really.

NASCAR called and they want us for a pit crew. Candace did most of the work but we helped by giving her some great new book titles to read. I marveled at how fast and efficient the process was versus changing a bike tire. Put side by side I wonder which would take longer and I still think changing, patching or in any way dealing with a bike tire takes more time.

You can triple check your tires (either bike or car) and you can always have patch kits and all the accoutrement for dealing with flats but they still happen and they require time to change and adjust. Like the spare on the car felt weird and wobbly to the driver. But the spare is temporary until a new proper tire can be installed.

Then of course that all leads me to thinking about Prince Harry and being a spare king (recent royal memoir) riding along never knowing when your moment to come out of the boot and into the spotlight will come. You can’t overthink stuff like that though because otherwise you’ll never get on the road of life and ride. I guess the lesson is to keep learning and growing and recognize that staples and screws are part of the path we’re all on and it’s good to have people in the pit ready to help us out and get us back on the road.

Thank YOU dear readers for being out there and sharing in my somewhat off the beaten track adventures. I love your Likes and it’s nice to know that out there someone gets me.

Have a brilliant day!

Bike Goddess

Custom Ride or Not?

Let’s talk about custom bikes. I have been riding bikes for most of my adult life and before that I had three bikes: a tricycle, a nondescript bike with training wheels, and a bodacious, freedom loving, adventure hunting banana seat. Then I recall a cheap Firenze my Dad got free somehow, and a Raleigh then a Schwinn and so on and so on. I rode a Schwinn Passages across the USA back in 1986. I digress. I have had more than a few bicycles and yet I still do not have the perfect bike.

Currently in the bike corral there’s a 2006 Trek Portland, a 2012 Kona Mixte Roundabout (the daily commuter bike) a Specialized Globe, and a Cannonade Carbon Synapse Road bike. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure: there’s a Specialized Rock Hopper circa 1987 hanging from the ceiling. It was a birthday present from my husband.

But what is the perfect bike. I have been thinking about this quite a bit. I think some bikes fit a certain purpose. I have no intention on weighing down my road bike with racks and panniers. I bike and I have bikes. There it is. I ride three of the four most weeks. The Specialized Globe has a giant basket rack on the front and my dog likes to ride up front. That’s his bike. Don’t judge.

However, when it comes to the custom build, I always thought it was just for people who were either too tall or too short for what was in the bike shops. I have learned there’s certainly a market there, but what about someone who simply wants a better more custom rig?

Here’s an article about custom bikes.

Point numero uno:

1. Know what you want, and find someone who specializes in it.

I am working on it. You know when you see it. I saw a bike by this builder and it has a belt drive. I think I want a belt drive for my new commuter bike. I have always liked the technology and I think my next bike needs it. It’s ultra quiet, like a Prius for bikes. It’s also lower maintenance. Not to brag, but I am replacing chains regularly.

2. Know what you like and don’t like about your current bike.

I have a list. I am meeting with a bike builder in two days and I have a list of all my bikes and what I like and what isn’t working. But this new bike is my commuter. It’s the bike that needs to take me through all weather conditions and still be cute and sassy.

3. Be a partner, not just a customer.

Definitely! I can’t wait for this meeting. I am giddy about going into his shop and talking about my bikey needs. I have another list. I also have background.

4. Know your budget, and be upfront about it.

This point in very important. It’s hard though. I went to the Shinola store in Detroit a few weeks ago and I almost, just about, nearly bought a bike. But the bottom line is that for $2,900, it still wasn’t quite it. I took the Scott Sub 8, belt drive for a spin and it’s really pretty and super quiet and I loved the feel, but still, not quite it. I even took a Public bike for a spin. It was okay, so I know I have some sort of standard. I love the look of the Shinola Bixby, but at $3500 and still needing modifications, I figure it’s time to have the custom bike conversation.

5. Know exactly what you’re getting.

Well, sure! Duh! But how is this possible? I love steel. I love carbon. I love aluminum… what’s a Bike Goddess to do? I have rented bikes, ridden bikes, bought and sold bikes. I’m not sure how to Know exactly what you’re getting, but this is an step, a first conversation, a start in the right direction.