13 January 2015


Faith Collage

Well, not exactly that kind of faith. I’m talking about bicycles, and the faith we have in them to get us where we’re going.

Now, it isn’t unusual to be wary after you build your first bicycle, getting atop a saddle that you hope you secured to a seatpost, that you hope is tightly installed into the frame, that you hope has a pair of wheels and brakes securely fastened onto it. I built up a bicycle for the Mrs. one year and on its maiden voyage, the crank arm fell off mid-ride and the attach bolt rolled off to parts unknown. This was of course, my fault, and her complete faith in my abilities to assemble a bicycle was a little shaken thereafter. I’ve since made it a point to double-check every fastener before a ride, but we all make mistakes. [Ed. note: sorry about that!]

The other day, I was riding the Avon and had got a flat tire from a rather long (and unexpected) nail on the bike path, and had to make the trek home on foot, pushing the bike alongside me. Do I carry a patch kit with me always? Not if I’m just going about town, because I’d rather fix problems in the comfort of my own garage versus the side of the road. And really, I don’t get flats all that often, so it wasn’t a big deal. I got home, found the hole in the tube, and after some directed scuffing, firmly applied the patch.


I wasn’t convinced it was going to hold, however. It was a glue-less patch, and prior experience with them had proven them to be less than adequate. So with trepidation, I pumped up the tire, listened for any escaping air, and was satisfied with the patch job.

Fast forward a few more days, and it was time again to go to the grocery store. I was really hesitant to take the Avon because of the previous flat, but they say if you fall off of a horse, you have to get back on. Or, lightning never strikes the same place twice. Or anything to that effect, really. So I inflated the tire to full pressure, listened again for a leak, and then took it out down the road and back on a test run. No problems. See? I thought. Have a little faith in yourself.


I proceeded on to the grocery store, my fear of a flat dissipating with every revolution of the wheel. I stopped to take some pictures, got back on, still no problems. The Avon rolled on, smoothly and delightfully, down the avenues basked in sunlight. I took a deep breath and nodded my head in satisfaction.  Finally, I arrived at the grocery store, parked the bike, and went inside.

Now, if the story had ended here, I would have said that I learned a little bit about challenging expectations that day. That, in spite of past problems, sometimes you have to take a risk to be rewarded with some self-confidence; you’ve got to have a little faith.

But it doesn’t.

Exiting the grocery store, hands full of sundries, I unload them into the rear basket and flip back the kickstand only to find the rear tire completely und utterly deflated. Again. Just great, I said. Why on Earth it decided to hold it together until I had a bunch of groceries to bring home, I will never know. Even deflating at some point along the way would have been more convenient than pushing this thing through the parking lot and back onto the bike path.

So I learned something else that day: mainly, glue-less patches are a waste of time and I’m done with them. But I also learned that while blind faith may indeed get you somewhere, it might not get you back home.


- Bicyclist Abroad


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