It was a tumultuous bike ride this morning. No injuries so it wasn’t the worst ride ever but there were problems. Back before I rode my bike all winter long (over a decade now) I used to have to take a month in the spring and build up my stamina. I had five routes. One being the easiest and five being the one I eventually rode all summer long.
Now I ride route four in the cold months and route five in the warm ones. The names don’t make sense anymore since there are no longer routes one through three. So I decided to rename them. Now I take “The Ride of the Nine Hills” and “The Ride of the Seven Hills.” It’s much more poetic.

Today I was on “The Ride of the Nine Hills” and I was just coming off the biggest hill and turning onto Route 9W South. There is a tricky spot ten or twenty yards from that turn. Most of the section of 9W that I ride has a wide shoulder so I can ride on the shoulder and that makes things safer. But there is a part of the shoulder right after the turn that has a break in it. There is a crack and the south side of the crack is about two inches higher than the north side. It’s like hitting a little two inch cliff. That cliff can pop a tire.

Normally I swing out onto the road a foot or two and avoid the crack all together. Easy enough. But today as I was heading towards the crack (it’s on a downhill by the way) there was a big truck bearing down on me. An eighteen wheeler. That was not the time to swing a foot or two out into the road so I decided to turn further into the shoulder and try to avoid the crack. If I hit it at just the right diagonal angle and then swing back I can miss it.

My front tire went trough just fine but I flinched as the truck went by me and at that moment my back tire swung too early and hit the crack. Sure enough it popped. I was completely annoyed.

But I carry with me a spare tube and have a portable air pump strapped to my bike for just such an occasion. I pulled over onto a lawn at the bottom of the hill and proceeded to change the tube. Everything went well until I tried to put air in the tire. As I attached the head of the pump to the stem of the tire and started to pump air the head went flying off. That happens sometimes as it takes a lot of air pressure to fill a bike tire. No big deal I thought.

As I went to put the head of the pump back on I noticed something wasn’t right. Where there should be a connector there was a hollow. I looked around at the ground and found two plastic pieces that had fallen out of the pump. How did that happen?

I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I could put the two pieces back but when I went to pump air they flew off pretty quickly. What I didn’t know until I eventually got home and looked it up is that there is a metal piece that screws onto the head and keeps those other two pieces in place. Mine had unscrewed and fallen off. When and where that happened is a mystery. It could have been a minute before or a month ago. I only uses that pump in emergencies like this one.

It took me three or four tries but I got some air in the tire. My left hand had to take the place of the metal piece as I held the head of the tire onto the tube stem. It wasn’t easy. The air pressure of a road bike tire is about 90PSI. I probably only got about 40-50PSI in there but still it took a lot to hold the pump head in place as I pumped with my right hand and held the other end of the pump against my thigh.

As an aside a couple of fellow bike riders asked if I was okay as they rode by. They problem was that they asked as they flew by. I didn’t even see them coming. It would have been easier if I could borrow a pump from them but I didn’t even have a chance to ask. It was a strange situation.

Meanwhile after I got enough air in the tire I went on with my ride and headed home. I was mostly thinking about what broke on my pump and how that could happen. Then, as I was a mile or so from home, I made a turn onto Central Highway and I got another flat tire! This time it was a pinprick flat (as I discovered when patching the tire at home) so I didn’t hear anything pop. I was flabbergasted. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten two flats on one ride.

I decided to just walk the bike home from there. It wasn’t much of a decision because I only carry one spare tube with me on my rides and pumping up the tire to see if it would hold any air seemed a futile gesture. It’s August 12 as I write this and we’ve been having a heat wave in recent weeks but today it was a pleasant 77ºF out. So at least I had nice weather for my walk.

I was going to go onto Amazon and leave a bad review for about my broken pump but oddly I couldn’t find it among my past orders. I must have put the pump on my wishlist and someone got it for me for a birthday or Christmas. I kept digging for info on the pump and that’s when I discovered that there was a piece that fell off mine. I couldn’t buy just that piece so I ended up getting a whole new pump for $35. I bought the same one because all the others I could find weren’t nearly as good. When the new one arrives I’m really going to have to keep track of that piece.