17 June 2015

Flat-Free--For Today, Anyway

Today dawned clear; bright sun filled the morning and afternoon sky.  Clouds gathered around the time schools were letting kids out but there was no threat of rain. That much I could tell because although the air grew warmer, as it normally does during the day, the humidity didn’t increase. Or so it seemed.

In other words, today was a very, very nice day for a ride in these parts.  So of course I went.  Best of all, I pedaled into the wind as I pedaled away from home.  That meant, of course, that the wind blew me back.  I couldn’t have planned it any better than that.

I rode over parts of routes I’ve ridden many times before.  Although I’ve been thinking, lately, about new places and paths, I was happy to ride my old, familiar routines today.  In brief, I was simply happy to ride.

No, I haven’t had some near-death experience or other tragedy that could have left me unable to ride my bike—or live.  This day, and the ability to ride with nothing to distract me from its pleasures, was enough. 

All right, I’ll admit that there was one particular thing about this ride that made me even happier than I usually am when I’m on my bike.  Perhaps it will seem completely mundane, and under most circumstances it would be.  What is that piece of good fortune?  Here goes:  I didn’t get a flat.

Image result for bicycle flat tire
From Trinity Outdoor Education 

Now, I manage to do most of my rides—including my commutes—without puncturing my tires or tubes.  But on the three rides I took before this one, I had no such luck.  In fact, on one ride, I managed to get two flats.
You might be asking yourself, “She’s devoting a post to that?”  I can’t blame you if you are.  But the fact that I got this recent rash of flats is actually of some import—to me, anyway.  Why?

Well, those flats weren’t the result of worn-out or poor-quality tires or tubes.  I also haven’t been riding any tires that are lighter or otherwise more delicate than the ones I’ve used for the past several years. (The tires I rode today were Continental Gatorskins; I almost invariably ride tires from Continental, Michelin, Panaracer or Schwalbe.)  And, of course, the road conditions aren’t different from what I’ve been riding for a while.

All right, I should amend that last statement.  It does seem that there’s more debris on the streets, roads and paths than I normally see at this time of year.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that we had snow and ice so late in the season this year.  In most years, I encounter the most debris—and get the majority of whatever flats I get—in late winter and early spring.  I think that in most years, some shards of glass and other hazards are buried under the snow and ice and exposed once those winter accumulations melt or are brushed or shoveled away.  The first couple of heavy rains in April or May seem to wash much of the debris away; I rarely get flats late in the spring, or in the summer or fall unless I’m riding on a worn tire or have some other unusual circumstance.

In most years in this part of the world, the snow and ice are usually gone by March and the first heavy rains—the kinds that cause flooding on low ground or places with poor drainage—strike in April. However, we didn’t have such a torrent until the first day of this month. It usually takes two or three such storms, I think, to wash away much of what causes flats.

I’m hoping today’s ride is a good omen.  If it isn’t, well, I’ve had to do much worse things than replace or repair a tube during a ride!

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