Sunday, October 30, 2016

Where I get screwed but good

Losing. Air. Quickly.
London, ON
September 2016
Thematic. Disposable. Here.
I ride my bike to work for a whole lot of reasons, primarily because I believe it's healthier for me and, for the most part, more fun than taking the car. It also helps me bypass the guilt I tend to feel when I decide to drive. Sure, if it's raining, snowing or the all-dominant daily schedule otherwise obviates my taking the bike, I feel perfectly justified in grabbing the keys. But if weather and schedule are both clear, I feel like I'm ripping the planet off if I don't pedal in.

So on a brilliantly sunny morning not all that long ago (okay, it was September, and I'm ridiculously behind in getting my drafts posted online), I found myself cruising down the first hill barely two blocks from my house as I settled into an easy spin into the office. As I've done countless times this season, I coasted the bike through the traffic light-controlled four-lane intersection at the bottom of the hill, popped onto the bike path that parallels the sidewalk and spun my legs up to speed.

A few hundred metres further on, something didn't feel right. The rear end of the bike felt a little soft, and I could feel a clicking sound coming from the back wheel. Uh oh. I pulled over and looked down to this sight: A large screw stuck right into the tire. Thankfully the tire itself was still holding some air. Figuring I had a few minutes of grace left before the thing completely deflated, I turned the pink wondermachine around and headed for home.

A flat tire isn't a big deal in the pantheon of life. Unless you're descending a mountain at 70+ km/h and suffer a blowout, you'll likely live to tell the tale. At low speed and close to home, this one turned out to be a relatively low-consequence event, and one that was easily resolved.

So I tossed the bike into the back of my car and headed for the office. Later in the day, I popped into the bike shop near work and had a delightful conversation with another customer who recognized my bike by the year I bought it. While the mechanic fixed my boo-boo, the three of us discussed the challenges of commuting, and the why we still do it despite the risks. Before long, we said our goodbyes as they both helped me wheel my bike back through the creaky wooden door at the front of the shop.

As I tucked the bike back into the garage that evening, I realized how lucky I am - that a chance encounter with a sharp object gave me the opportunity to appreciate just how passionate London's cycling community is, and how lucky I am to be a part of it. Something to keep in mind tomorrow morning as I load up the bike again and set off on my morning ride.

Maybe I was meant to ride over that screw after all.


Kalei's Best Friend said...

There is a reason for everything that happens to us... Just think, u now have a new if not better relationship w/the bike shop owner and u may come across the other person u met... One so called bad incident can lead to something better...

Tabor said...

I wish we were better at accommodating bikers here in the U.S. But it is dangerous in many areas.