Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blown Tires.

You aren’t paying attention. What are you going to do when you get a flat?

Call you, of course. Except that I can’t call you, which is why I am in bike maintenance for dummies class. In cream cargo capris and a white T. Not smart, considering that the next 60 minutes will cover lubing, degreasing, repairing and inflating. 

I am here because I am now the sole owner of a garage filled with bikes and bike parts, tubes and tires, canisters filled with suspicious looking lubricants, pieces of chain, racks and pumps. We have road bikes, mountain bikes, trainer bikes, BMX bikes and tagalongs. And an unusually high number of zip ties.

I once went looking for a Phillips head and inner tubes erupted like trapped snakes from a drawer. Tucked at the top of a hallway cupboard I discovered every worn, broken and sweat-soaked helmet my husband had ever owned. He had 37 cycling jerseys hanging in the closet, outnumbered only by race and cycling t-shirts. Two drawers filled with sleeve and leg warmers, chamois shorts and bibs, skull caps and gloves, rain gear and socks. I found race medals in drawers throughout the house and his Camelbak insert in the freezer. An orderly stack of number plates in a garage cupboard. Bag balm in the medicine cabinet.

Suggesting he pick up a hobby seemed like a good idea at the time.

In less than five minutes, the instructor has deflated, re-inflated and checked for leaks and holes the tires on two entirely different bikes, tossing out references to tire wrenches, purple something and white lightning, lining the rims, pinch flats and dollar bills. Maybe I could just get the number for the American Bicycling Association’s roadside service?

No, because he loved his bicycles and so does his son. And I’ve seen the same glint in my daughter’s eyes now that she is riding on two wheels. It’s why I spend Monday nights at a dusty track, why I laugh when my son tells me that he prefers to ride in the dirt because “it feels good,” and why I avoided teaching my daughter how to ride only because I should have been watching him do it.

It’s why I’ll be sitting in my living room with a dirty tire long after my kids are in bed trying to figure out what the instructor just did.

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