Monday, February 11, 2008

Flat tires: How do you deal?

So here's the deal: I'm a strong athlete, own a really nice bike and yet, I prefer to ride it indoors instead of out. Why? I'm terrified of getting a flat tire. The idea of being helpless, possibly tens of miles from home (and even worse, out of cell range), with only my very meager mechanical skills to rely upon to get me home is terrifying. Yes, I do know how to change a tire, but I'm far, far from proficient at it, and even if I do get it on right--a very slight possibility--there's always the chance I'll flat again.

I've been assigned an essay by a major magazine to write about this situation, and wonder if I'm alone. I hope not. I know this blog is mostly devoted to running, but if you're a cyclist (or think you'd like to be one) who is as frightened by the "psssst" sound of a emptying tube as I am, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me a funny story about when you flatted or how you're overcoming your fear of flatting or a tip about how to make the changing process more efficient or why I'm such a stereotypical girl. In other words, tell me anything about flat tires. I may use it in the story. You can either post a comment here, or e-mail me at dimitymdavis at yahoo dot com.

Thanks in advance--
Dimity

5 comments:

PDXJulie said...

I know what you mean about being worried about flats! My advice is to take a clinic on basic bike mechanics. I took one as part of a triathlon clinic and more than anything, it made me feel sooo much more comfortable about going out on long rides on my own. My husband still does most of the bike repairs and maintenance mostly because he loves doing it, but I try to change the tires as much as I can while I'm at home (and have a backup!) so that I feel more skilled. It just takes practice - sorta like training for a marathon.

Rae said...

I hear you. I started riding last year and was absolutely terrified of flatting. As my friend Jill says, flat is a four letter word in my house. I have taken bike clinics and my husband has shown me how to change a flat, but I can tell you, I'm still afraid. . .very afraid. I don't like being out in the middle of nowhere without help. I'd be interested in hearing what advice you have on overcoming this. . .

Burke Family said...

My only flat was the result of riding through some broken glass and then falling before I could unclip my pedals. After blotting my bloody knee, I was determined to prove myself a strong, capable, indpendent woman by confidently and patiently changing my tire. After about an hour of messing around with the replacement tube, that plastic thing that pries off the tire, my tiny portable pump, and waving off one offer of help from a passer-by, I capitulated and called my husband for a ride home. It turns out that I wasn't using the pump correctly so was never able to inflate the new inner tube. The next time I used that pump was on a hike when I saw a bear run through the woods. In a panic, I grabbed the pump from my pack and froze in a "defensive" posture. I don't know what I was thinking because if I can't even get a pump to blow air, how is it going to help me defend against a bear?!

Amy said...

I hear you! I have a huge fear of riding by myself for that very reason. My husband is always after me to go for rides by myself but I never get too far from home. I know how to change a tire, but am sure I could get home faster pushing the flatted bike than changing it. My husband always jokes that I have nothing to worry about - I'm a girl and surely someone would come along and help me! I'd just rather not test that theory!

Jade Lady said...

I think it's a major reason why many women don't like to ride a bike alone. I hardly biked before last year for this very reason. Finally, I decided to get over my fear. Wouldn't you know it? The first flat I had to change was the back tire. The task seemed very daunting at first.

My husband taught me how to change one, and that part was actually much easier than I thought, but getting the wheel back on my bike is what I hated. The second time it happened was the front tire, and it was a little easier, but again, getting the wheel back on the bike challenged me.

Like all things we do, it's a matter of practice. Speaking of practice, that's definitely needs to be on my list of things to practice in 2008. Thanks for writing this. I'll be shooting for a 5 min.flat change..well, maybe 10 minutes..:-)