Let Me Do It
February 1, 2010
It’s inspirational to read other cyclists’ blogs on winter riding. Last Sunday they inspired me to manhandle the new cyclocross tires onto the Specialized.
Pretty much everyone grumbles about changing tires, but all riders should know how to fix flats. At least that’s what I thought when I began riding as an adult. About five years ago I asked a local bike shop owner to teach me how to change a flat. He suggested instead that I carry a $20 bill in my seatbag for those occasions when flirting failed to get it done for free. Not exactly what I had in mind. Mr. Spoked felt the same way–why did I need to be self-sufficient when he was around? Eventually, a weekend ride with our buddy Tim presented an excellent learning opportunity when a sharp hissing sound issued from my rear tire. Tim showed me how to fix it, and I understood that knowledge was power.
Still, last weekend I was a bit nervous wrestling with the cyclocross tires in the presence of Mr. Spoked. Questions were inevitable, as it had been years since I’d had to change a tire. I thought he could be a sounding board, while he thought I was asking for help. It went something like this.
Me: This tire isn’t coming off.
Him: It takes brute force. I’ll take care of it.
Me: Why can’t I get these levers to slide along the rim?
Him: Hand them to me.
Me: Is there enough air in the new tube?
Him: Let me do it.
A few curt remarks were exchanged between us, in the style of many couples who’ve been married for 17 years. Thankfully, I was able to repel most of his helpful advances and got the new tires onto the bike by myself. I meant to shoot some photos of my greasy hands for the blog afterward, but there were only faint smudges. It was a satisfying feeling.
Knobbier tires meant I was ready for my first ride of 2010. On Saturday the sun was shining brightly, the streets were mostly dry, and the temperature was a balmy 34°F. It also was the second-to-last day of January, and I had a strong compulsion to put on some miles before the month passed into history. A little cold wasn’t going to stop me, so I pulled on three layers on top, two below, plus wood socks, heavy shoes, and a balaclava under the helmet. Heavy gloves protecting the hands were the obvious choice.
These “lobster claw” style gloves are warm, almost too warm. I’ve ridden with them on 40 degree days and ended up stripping them off because I was sweating inside. But they were the perfect solution for 34 degrees, being well insulated on the interior. Each finger is individually wrapped in warm, soft felt. The split fingers make it easier to shift and brake. I bought them at Sunflower Bike in Lawrence, where the clerk was a bit incredulous that I was planning on using them on a road bike. He couldn’t conceive of winter rides except off-road.
Next week’s post will be the first of several about my custom bike.