On this perfect Texas autumn day we rode on our best road surface for hundreds of miles around to little Christoval about 15 miles (25 km) away in very little wind. Chad, Brian, Liz, Roy, and I kept a pace of 15-18 mph on the gentle rises. Our good friends always hold back for us on our social rides, at least on the first leg. We rested and replenished supplies at the turn-around spot—the local convenience store. Shortly, Velma and Rick, having missed our departure time by a bit, caught up with us at the store. What a beautiful day.
Beginning the return leg I announced, “I’m going to just enjoy the ride on the way back.” In bicyclese that means I wasn’t going to try to stay with the leaders.For a short change of scenery we rode through the main street of Christoval. Won’t do that again as Velma got a rear tire flat. No matter, Rick is a quick-change artist of bicycle tires. Off we went with the now increased wind to our backs. I was at the rear as I said I would be, but could see the group up ahead. Roy was only 30 or so yards in front of me. Not one minute after taking off again…bump, bump, bump. “Flat!!” “Roy!!!” “ROY!!!!” “FLAAATTT!!!!!!” “HEEEEYYYY!!!!!”
OK. Someone will turn around to check, see that I’m not there, and return to help. Or someone will stop to see if I catch up, and when I don’t, return to help. Or if they don’t check for a long time they’ll eventually turn around to help. I’ve never had to change a rear tire. It is difficult, especially with arthritic thumbs… Been to two pink wrench classes; get to work. Take out tools, new tube, CO2 canister. Unlatch brake, loosen wheel release, remove wheel, free one side of tire with tire tool…surely, someone has noticed I’m not coming…feel the inside of tire for the culprit, ouch, there it is, use tweezers in the little Swiss Army knife to pull out the dadblamed miniscule shard of rock…how could they have not missed me…blow some air into tube, put half of tire onto rim, poke tube stem into rim hole, poke tube into tire…gee, not even the traffic is stopping to help an old lady…make sure tire isn’t pinching tube against rim…where do they think I am; what do they think I’m doing…screw on top to CO2 canister, loosen stem tip, apply CO2…Whoosh…it worked! Bounce tire…good…now to get the tire onto the frame, put cassette inside chain loop, drop the frame onto tire…come on, come on…drop frame onto tire…oh, it worked! Latch, tighten, latch.
It took what seemed forever, and dirty chain grease was all over my fingers and on my shorts where I’d wiped my fingers, but…I did it! Line up gears…they must be finished by now…try not to get grease on handlebar wraps, turn on rear blinky lights, push off, finish ride. Still a beautiful day.
Only 2 miles from finishing (perhaps an hour after the flat) I saw our blue car coming toward me. I indignantly told Roy, "Wait for me at the parking lot. I don’t need a SAG, now.”Lessons learned/silver linings and all that. I’ll stop telling folks not to wait for me, that I’m just going to enjoy the ride, to go on ahead. And I changed a rear tire all by myself!!
“I am woman. Hear me roar…” because Roy sure can’t.