Thursday, February 5, 2009


It wasn't exactly the debut that I had hoped it would be.

Mid morning started with a run. And though the pace was slow and laborious, and in spite of the buckets worth of snot I was producing with every step, it felt great to be outside. I swear, running ten minute miles never felt so good.

The goal was to just go out easy, keep the pace easy, and finish easy. No probelm-o! A workout that I knew I could accomplish. No pieces, no fast stuff, no paying attention to heart rate or worrying about pace.

All simple.

Just run. For running's sake!

Later in the day, I headed out for an easy recovery spin. Recovery? I thought. When was the last time I 'recovered' from a 40 minute easy run? But I'll do just about anything to be outside, enjoying the scenery and feeling productive in the only way that working out provides.

It felt good to just get going.

I headed out south along Highway 101, straight into a gusty and never-ending headwind. At least the spin back should be a breeze I thought. Literally.

I watched my speedometer max out at 18 mgh going down a steep hill. While pedaling. Yeah, it was that windy. But really it didn't matter, as I was just spending a little time in the saddle, spinning out the legs. I ignored the 14 mph flashing, and kept pedaling on.

About 20 minutes into the ride, I turned around and headed for home. I told you it was short. I glanced over to my left, eying the angry storm clouds that were just beginning to dump sorely-needed rain across the area. They looked like they were about to burst at any minute.

Good thing I'll be home in 20 minutes.

And, as if on cue, I got a flat tire. The front one.

Oh bugger!

I managed to avoid wiping out on the slick pavement, and headed towards the Hilton for refuge. At least I could take shelter under the car port while I changed my tire. I'm sure I looked great to the oncoming cars, but it was only a 50 meter walk.

The rain came down harder. And the wind blew and blew and blew some more. (Throw in some great horror music and you've got the idea).

Setting my bike up against the pillar under the shelter of the car park, I quickly went about the task of wrestling my tube off the tire. It only took one tire lever and a lot of pulling. There could have been some swearing as well, but I'm not sure.

Before too long, the tube and tire were off, and I was inspecting the rim for debris. Nothing. Great!

Next was a sweep of the tire, which again produced no glass or any objects sharp in nature. Tube and tire together, I re-wrestled them back onto the rim.

This time it took two tire levers, but I was satisfied with the job.

Could it be? Was this going to be a record setting tire change? I was this close to waving at the concerned patrons in the hotel, but thought better of it.

It's when I went to inflate the tube that I noticed something amiss. Instead of a long valve poking through my tire rim, there was only a very small end peeking out. Okay? I re-adjusted the tire, pulling at the valve and playing with the tube, but it didn't work to produce more valve.

I tried pushing through the tire, but the valve refused to budge any further out from the rim. Excellent!

I figured that maybe I should just try inflating the tire and see what happens. After all, I did have a spare cartridge, and I could make it work. How many flat tires had I changed successfully? Too many to count.

First co2 cartridge was a bust. I placed the nozle over the valve, and only got a small burst of pressurized air. It sounded as though the valve to the cartridge was about to fail. Was this possible? Do these things age after X amount of tire changes? I wasn't sure, but I kept trying to get the air out. I made sure the co2 was screwed in tightly and pumped the end accordingly.

I swear - the cartridge sounded as though it was wheezing.


When the second co2 failed, I new I was in trouble.

It was raining. It was windy. It was cold. And I had been out for a full 15 minutes, okay 20 minutes, working on this stupid tire.

I had gone from thinking about myself as Chrissie Wellington changing her flat on the Queen K, to Norman Stadler, hurtling his bike on the lava fields.

I was this close to chucking my bike over the cliff into the ocean. But I would have had to cross 4 lanes of traffic to do so.

There was some more swearing - in German no less. And then I had to figure out what to do.

I had a tire with about 20 psi in it. No cartridge. No valve. And it was cold and rainy.

I thought about calling Nathaniel, but I knew he would be off flying. Excellent! There were more swear words. Man - I was really on a roll. Gordon Ramsey would be impressed.

So instead, I figured I would either bike or walk home. I was still 3 miles from our place, and the prospect of walking in the rain and the cold wasn't all that appealing.

With much trepidation, I packed up all my gear, threw away the old tube, bid farewell to the highly amused valets, and slowly pedaled off. It took a lot of skill (mainly slow speeds) to bike on a front tire that held 30 psi. I looked enviously at the hotel beech bikes, displayed in the front window and protected form the elements. Bastards.

The three mile trek home was a slow slog through wind and rain. About a mile from the house, the tire lost all pressure, and I bump bump bumped along the rest of the way. I thought about walking some more, but the rain was really heavy, and I wanted to get inside and warm as quickly as possible. Bike shoes + pushing the bike didn't seem appropriate.

So I gutted it out. More cursing, some in German, and I eventually found myself bumping over the seven speed bumps that lead into our condo. Those felt just super! I nearly broke out into song after traipsing through the front door.

Well, it wasn't the best of rides. But I learned a few valuable lessons. It's been a LONG time since I changed a tire, and while my ability to get the flippin' tire off the rim and then replaced may be relatively short, it wasn't without error. And second: mechanical errors suck. I'm really happy that I found my co2 holder to be wonky before a race situation. Really happy about that one.

In the end, I was no worse for the wear. My German swearing is coming along well, and I was really impressed with my restraint from chucking the bike over a cliff. Only think that should have gone correctly, was for the tire to properly inflate. Oh well. Better I figure out my issues now than later.

Hey, but that's what this is all about, right? Better luck to YOU next time you flat. And tomorrow? I'll find myself at the bike shop, picking up a new co2 holder and some spare tubes. If I'm really feeling up to it, I'll practice my tire changing skills a few times, just to be sure. Yeah, that sounds good.


D said...

Oh man! Last year I got a flat and was all Chrissie Wellington chill about it (of course, this is before I knew how chill she would be about it), then not 20 minutes later double flatted. Of course, I didn't have enough goods to change 3 flats in a ride so I pulled a Normann. Minus any German swearing. I should learn some though... what would be better than seeing a little girl on the side of the road swearing in German with her bike in the bushes?
I count my blessings that my mom picked me up that day. Someone may have met an untimely end otherwise.

D said...

(oh, and glad you're feeling better... I've been following your sickyness on facebook through your posts on other people's walls lol)

BreeWee said...

thanks for the reminder about learning to fix a flat... it's great training with the guys because they hate to wait for me to fix my flats so they do it for me in 30 seconds flat, BUT the crap part is I never practice and it still takes about 45 minutes!

LEARN it marit!

Ordinarylife said...

Yikes - horrid!

ADC said...

I know exactly how you feel. With our English weather I've done it all. Biked for 3 miles to work in horrible rain on a complete flat rear tyre as it was too wet to change it; walked home for 2 miles in my bike shoes because my levers brokep; got fed up and hailed a cab. My all time favouite is three flats at Silverman with only kit for two. I felt so much like Chrissie Wellington. I HATE flats!

Missy said...

I haaaate it! The best is when everyone is looking on, yep, that feels great. Way to tough it out, I might have cried and said lots of bad words (in English) wich would have been real nice for the incoming hotel guests!

Dave said...

Okay, I confess that we were rewatching Kona the other day and breaking out the "Anuhduh flaaht ti-yah!" comments. I probably should do a little tire-changing practice myself - I'm about in Bree's 45 minute league there. :)

BriGaal said...

Congrats on the improved German swearing! See, Marit, you can do anything you put your mind to.

Kim said...

Sorry about the tire, and I know EXACTLY which speed bumps you are talking about. Props to you for just gutting it out and getting back. I also need to learn how to change a tire more quickly and at the same time, should check all of my gear before heading out (including replacing those 3.00 CO2 cartriges, I think I've had some of them for like 2 years!). Miss you! Have a great weekend and feel better!!

Charisa said...

Oh man, there is nothing worse than having to fix a flat, than having to do it in the rain!!! Glad you are feeling better!

rr said...

Flats are such a crapshoot.. sometimes it's five minutes, and sometimes I'm calling around begging for a ride. Good job getting home!

Shan said...

lol "My german swearing is coming along well"...awesome!! That really tickled my funny bone.

You know, the last flat I got, I ended up elbow deep in grease (hmmm, probably need to clean the drive train, eh?) and ...oh, wait! You were there for that ride!!!! Hehehe Yeah, even after many flats, I still can't do it fast and easy. Like RR said, total crapshoot...

At least it was the front wheel though!! :)

Mama Simmons said...

Ugh. I think if you ride long enough, eventually you do that slow pitiful bump bump bump ride home on a flat tire. But in the cold rain? That sucks!!

Hope you get better weather this weekend... and glad you're feeling well enough to get outside and exercise a little. :)

Eileen Swanson said...

Glad you got home ok. I would have been super annoyed too. Good thing that you were only 3 miles from home. You could always call my in laws to come get you ;-)

Jennifer Cunnane said...

Glad the German swearing is coming along! Ha! that made me laugh, I wish you were here at the girls tri camp in FL, heard some funny stories from liz and Jen H about you. Maybe next year?

Ryan said...

If it wasn't an awesome piece of aero engineering (scott plasma) I would love to see and hear your account of throwing your bike off the cliff screaming, "there's too much glooooo, too much gloooooo!"

Ashley said...

PRICELESS... you paint quite a picture my friend. Teach me some German curse words soon, please!