The grace period between when you notice your bike tire is a little softer than usual, when you begin to pump it every morning before the ride to work, and when you have to admit it needs patching or replacing ran out today. So I email the boss–“flat tire” — to buy some time to fix it.
I am no longer a college student, or a 20-something scraping to get by. I am a pretty well established person with a steady income. I could pay someone to fix this flat. Like the friendly mechanics at Takoma Bicycle shop. But I believe everyone should be able to change her own flat, perhaps especially those of us tempted to outsource our chores. It’s my attempt to stay grounded: Walk the dog. Mow the lawn. Rake the leaves. And since I haven’t done it in quite a while — relying instead on my more bike-saavy son — I know it is time to fix the tire myself.
Be your own bike hero.
Patch kit: found. Tube: removed. Hole: pinpointed, sanded, patched. Tube and tire replaced.
My fingers are black with bike grease, though somehow I have kept it from smearing on my work clothes. I am nearly finished (an embarrassingly long 20 minutes later) when I get snagged on how to route the chain around the rear deraileur. The chain hangs loose — so clearly I’ve missed something. The clock ticks on, and finally I abandon the project and walk to Metro.
A friend, riding his bike, stops to chat and I scrutinize his chain — running in front of that funny lower sprocket, then back.
Two days later I recall that configuration, reroute my chain, replace my wheel, finish pumping the tires and ride to Metro, triumphant.
Why would I go to a bike shop to change a flat tire? Because I can?
Why would I fix my own flat?
Because I can.