Sunday, March 3, 2013

You Will Go Far

Distance has potential. New River trail.

Since I opted for a longer than normal ride out to the west side, I decided the road bike needed some usage. I threw an extra spare tube into the bag just in case. Good thing, too.

Saturday's machine, sunlight glinting off crankset incidental

I was up for a longer ride. After about ten miles I worked out the kinks, and started to feel very connected and strong. That's actually a poor description of the melting into the bike flying across the pavement that I felt, but words are sometimes insufficient to the feeling. While I sometimes eschew the road bike for more utility-oriented, or less race-oriented setups, when I just want to ride far and with some speed, lightweight carbon, aluminum, and steel which respond promptly and lively to power input to the pedals is quite enjoyable. And it's pretty easy to repair a flat tire on it, too.

I picked up a thorn in my front tire somewhere around mile 20. It was medium-sized, not a goathead, but stiff and sharp, and punched a clean hole straight through tire and tube which flatted quickly. I found a shady spot to put in the new tube. As I was sitting on a comfortable bench with the wheel across my lap, searching for the puncture source, a little girl of perhaps three or four years old, along with her parent or guardian, wondered up.

"What are you doing?" she asked me.

"Oh, hi there. Fixing my flat tire."

"What's this?" she boldly asked, pointing.

"That's my frame pump."

"Can I try it?"

"Sure!" she picked it up, and turned it around, considering how to try it. She then put one end on the ground, and began pumping it. 

"What's it for?"

"For putting air back into my tire, once I get the new tube in."

"Can I help?"

"Well, I don't know, right now I'm trying to find the hole in the old tube so I can remove whatever caused the puncture so as not to poke a hole in the new tube."

"That would not be too good. I don't see the hole, though."

"Here, may I? I'll put some air back into the old tube and we'll see if we can hear the hissing."

"You carry that on your bike?" the parent or guardian was asking me. Separated from the bike, it was a little unclear where one would mount a full-sized frame pump. 

"Yeah, it mounts under the top tube, with these ends. There's a pump peg on the head tube, too. It's a lot easier to pump up a high pressure tire with a frame pump."

I found the hole in the tube, and ran my finger along the inside of the tire in the corresponding place. My finger found the thorn the hard way, and a small drop of blood appeared on my fingertip. I didn't notice it at first, though, which resulted in my smearing some blood on the rim.

"Mister, there's some blood on your finger. I can get you a bandaid for your ouchy."


I dug the thorn out of the tire, and mounted the new tube. Around that point, something else caught her interest, perhaps the playground equipment, and she and her guardian wandered off. I took my time finishing the job, made sure the tube was not pinched and the bead fully engaged all the way around. I like to double check these, because it's no fun to put air into a tube just to have it leak or explode because I mounted it wrong. Been there, done that, don't want to repeat.

Canal information sign, near the end of the canal

Linear park. This section includes shade and water stops, along with excellent signage and maps.

As I got back on the bike, I thought about the open curiosity and friendliness the little girl had shown. As she toddled away, full of enthusiasm for whatever was next, and I hope slightly more knowledgeable about bicycles, tires, pumps, thorns, and air, I sent a little prayer or wish in her wake: you will go far, little one, you'll go far.


  1. Sometimes, I wish I taught primary school.
    Okay, not really.

    1. There's so much potential. The future is theirs. Kids needs teachers who show them all that, while also filling them in on everything that's been discovered and defined to date. It's no small task. Teachers rock.

  2. Those canals are helpful in finding small leaks...

    1. I keep meaning to do a post on the potential uses of the canal for cyclists. Leak finder. Water source via filter straw or filter. Parts repository when they drain it. etc.

  3. You've been tagged!

  4. If your are not published somewhere, you should be.

    1. Thank you, Iron Rider. So far that distant destination has proven elusive, however. In my unfocused quest hopping from hope waypoint to waypoint, though, I've been like Virginia Woolf: “Truth had run through my fingers. Every drop had escaped.”

  5. i can't wait for warmth to return here so i can ride my roadbike again. a nice story of a nice ride - on a nice bike! steven

    1. I do sometimes miss the changing of the seasons, if I'm honest. That's a worthy subject for further pondering on a long ride, too.


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