Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Multi-denominational Brick

I completely understand and wholeheartedly accept the fundamental truth that much of the when, where and how we catch flats is driven by star alignment, Karmic justice, and plain old juju. While some may argue wet weather and worn tread are the most likely explanations for my five flats in seven rides, I am convinced it is the playing out of some Karmic debt or there is true sorcery, bewitchery, and diablerie at work. After all, three of the five flats occurred on brand-new Continental GP 4000s.

Holy Name Church
 On Sunday, while sitting in my study watching Manning and the Broncos dash San Diego's playoff hopes, I was interrupted by the loud phhhhsssssssst of a rapidly deflating tire. My bike was sitting in the hall just outside my study and the rear tire had spontaneously flatted. I have on occasion found a tire flat when preparing for a ride, but this was a first for me -- a violent, noisy flat hours after a ride, within earshot. After investigating the unusual event and discovering no obvious cause, I resolved to change the flat on Monday in plenty of time for Tuesday's ride and returned to the game.

Of course, my dawdling skills being of world-class caliber, I did nothing about the flat Monday except to repeatedly remind myself of the bothersome task which awaited, expending much more energy in the procrastination than the actual chore would consume. Tuesday morning, when forced to address the tire, I found I had no tubes but the one in the underseat bag on my bike. So I changed the flat, inflated the tire, and then gave the front tire a few pumps to bring it up to the 120 psi I normally ride. Off I went thinking only of how the Uptown group would mount the levee since access was now closed all the way to Ochsner Hospital.

Temple Sinai

Near the intersection of Nashville Ave. and St. Charles Ave. my front tire started a barely perceptible bump, bump, bump, like it was out-of-true or a spoke had broken. The bump-bump-bumping worsened until I pulled under a spotlight in front of Tulane to check it out, and discovered the bead of the front tire had unseated somehow and was bulging out. Obviously this was not good. As I dismounted to deflate the tire and re-seat the bead, the tire blew. 

With no spare I began walking my bike the twelve or so blocks back home. I wasn't looking forward to walking a mile in cycling shoes, but I didn't know whether my wife was still asleep and didn't want to wake her. It took just a block or so to rethink this. I called the house and let it ring once and hung up. I figured if she was awake she'd call back. She didn't and I began gathering photographic evidence of my predicament. About two blocks later, my wife called in a frantic state, having heard the phone and trying several times without success to call my phone, which was busy at the time being a camera.

St. Charles Presbyterian Church
It was something of an education clopping slowly along St. Charles Ave. in the dark. I was amazed at how many more runners are out than I had ever estimated while speeding along on a bike. And although I have passed the Jim Bob Moffett mansion almost daily for the last 47 years or so, I have never been at its front gate. As I stood peering into the grounds of the huge estate, I heard a nearby rustling and found myself staring at an elderly gentleman just a few feet into the yard, bundled against the chilly morning, raking leaves in the dark. It looked like I scared him. I said good morning, and he silently maintained his cold stare. Jim Bob lives in Arizona now, and I don't know who is in the home, but this was no gardener. It was a little surreal. So I nodded at the staring figure, now standing statue-still, and clopped on.

 Although she was happy to come get me at State St. and St. Charles, Denise was more than a little annoyed with the scare provided by the manner in which she was notified of my need for a ride. She rather forcibly suggested that I buy no less than ten tubes this very day, a position I was unwilling to take issue with under the circumstances.

So, it was a one-mile, three-block brick this fine Tuesday morning, and a trip to the bike shop for some tubes.


  1. They make these things called "patches" for that! I missed the group myself thanks to a long search for my headlight that had been removed for the Tulane training camp and somehow found itself in my daughter's room, which of course I had no way of knowing until after I'd searched the car and she had come down to ride. Then she told me I could go ahead because she was going to go do intervals in the park.

  2. "Speeding along on a bike" is a bit of a stretch don't you think?