Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

(This is from Tuesday, but I didn't get around to posting it until today...Ed)

It rained overnight. Actually, we had thunderstorms loud enough to shake me out of bed. I was dimly aware of distant thunder, but a near-simultaneous flash and BOOM! had me wide awake. I stumbled out to the living room where Mary was still watching television.

"Could you turn the noise down?" I asked. "It's hard to sleep."

"Oh, be quiet and go back to bed!" she growled. "You'll be sound asleep as soon as the storm passes."

"Where are the kittens?"

"They disappeared right after that loud boom. I haven't seen them since."

I went back to bed, shutting the door to be safe from marauding kittens. They're implacable killers-in-training. Sleeping people are merely convenient targets. The kittens are intent on attacking something, anything, and they have a single-minded, utterly heartless devotion to mayhem.

Sure enough, as soon as the storm subsided, I was asleep.

I woke a few minutes before the alarm went off. That may be one of the dubious benefits of getting older. My body is accustomed to waking up at the same time every day. That includes weekends. I was up and out of bed before the alarm sounded. Mary slept on.

Coffee and cold cereal took care of breakfast. I checked the blog list for new posts, watched 'old folks MTV' - the Weather Channel, and was out the door just after sun-up. I rode the Centurion fixed gear because it has fenders and the roads were still wet in places.

Going down the hill from the house, the bike handled a little strangely. It seemed to wander from side to side and the pavement felt rougher than normal. The reason was apparent as soon as I reached the corner at the bottom of the hill. My front tire was almost flat. Now, I'd checked it before leaving the garage and I added some air, but in the time it took to ride about 200 yards, it went completely flat. The tire is a Continental Top Touring. It's stiffer than most tires and it was more controllable while flat than some others I've used.

Still, it was a PITA to have a flat. I walked back up the hill to the house where I got the Giant out for the trip to work.

I'd toyed with the idea of simply changing out the front wheel while I walked back to the house. But the last time I tried that, the replacement wheel was thinner than the original, making the brake considerably less effective. Let's just say that it's a good thing that bicycles have two braking systems. When the lever goes all the way to the handlebar, riding down the hill from my house can be far too exciting.

If you've read this carefully, you've realized I rely mostly on the front brake. In fact, I rarely use the rear one, and on the fixed gear, I rarely use the brakes at all. The braking track on the Centurion's rear wheel shows no wear, for instance.

But I always do the ABC Quick check before leaving the driveway - air, brakes, chain, and quick releases. Either I hit something in the road or the valve stem failed. I'll find out when I get home today.

It could have been worse, much worse. If the tire had flatted down in the pecan grove, I may not have survived to write this. The mosquitoes would have carried me off into the woods for their next meal. The air has been thick with humidity and bugs. And there's always the deadly chupacabra to consider too.

The yard dogs from Hell greeted me with a lot of barking. But they weren't in the mood for a chase this morning. Maybe they were stiff and cold from the rain. I don't know, but I'm thankful for small things.


Blogger George said...

I had a similar ride last winter.

I am lucky enough to have quite a few bikes to ride, that morning it took 3 bikes to get my ride in.

Had a flat on the first bike, the second bike broke a spoke, finished out the ride on a mountain bike.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Fritz said...

I know about the "ABC quick check" but I didn't realize until just now that "quick" is a mnemonic for "quick release." Also, I had learned "C" stands for Crank, but chain makes more sense. Except for the time that my crank arm actually broke.

3:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home