When I was 16 and a junior in high school, I was fortunate to own my first car (1980 blue POS Ford Thunderbird). Even though it was a real clunker, that baby faithfully buzzed me around town, giving me my first real taste of freedom.
That is, until the tire very unexpectedly blew early one evening, after school, on a lone, quiet country road.
Now keep in mind, we’re talking the late 80s- the days before every teen, or really anyone for that matter, had their own cell phone. So, I was in the middle of nowheresville with absolutely no way to contact anyone, the sun quickly setting, and I was thinking that learning how to change a tire should be a mandatory part of driver’s education course.
And, just then, someone from the boys’ cross country team appeared in the distance, jogging toward me. Ugh, it was my ex-boyfriend Derek (that I had just broken up with the week prior; not the “we’ll always be friends” kind of break up, but instead the messy, ugly cry kind).
He stopped and smugly asked if I needed help; I’m fairly certain he took pleasure in my plight.
I looked to the sky and muttered to myself, “Why God, why, of ALL the people that could’ve stopped to help me, why him!?!”
Well, today, I had a similar experience. Only now, I’m 40 and I’ve traded in my Thunderbird for my first adult bike. With no warning, I hit a particularly high curb, and pop, hiss, oh no, crap- flat tire. Thankfully, I was less than a 1/4 mile from my house, so I was able to easily walk the rest of the way.
I wondered what I would do if I were in the middle nowheresville again. Sure, I could call a friend to come and get me, but what if no one was available? I’d be stuck, miles from my house on a non-operational bike.
I don’t know the first thing about changing a car tire, let alone a bike tire, but I figure it’s time to learn.
So, I’ll head back to the ever-so-helpful Cadence Bike Shop tomorrow for a new tire. And instead of having the sales dude put it on for me, I’ll have him teach me how to change the tire.
Bike riding can be dangerous business. Just this past Monday, I was driving my daughters to the YMCA for gymnastics practice. A very experienced looking bike rider (ya know, fancy bike, all the proper gear, etc.) was hit by a car while crossing over the exit lane out of the parking lot.
Fire trucks and police cars were on the scene. Thankfully, no one was injured; however, both the driver and the cyclist were fairly shaken up.
Getting hit by a car is of real concern, and all drivers and riders should take extra care on the roads.
In addition to having a spare tire (and knowing how to change it), some other riding safety tips I’ve learned:
- Don’t assume a car driver sees you. Slow down when coming to intersections, neighborhood entrances and exits. I was also nearly hit crossing over Amberfield as a driver was coming to a rolling stop. I assumed he saw me; the only reason he didn’t smack me was because I hit my brakes abruptly.
- Don’t use a headset to listen to music or talk on the phone. You need to hear the sounds around you. If you do listen to your iPod, at least pullout one of the ears and lower the volume of the music (I tried this today and it worked quite well).
- Wear your helmet! I know, I know, as kids, we never wore helmets and all of us grew up just fine, right? Wrong. There are too many very serious head injuries that could be avoided just by wearing a helmet.
- Carry your cell phone, because you never know when your spare tire will also blow, and you’ll need to rely on a friend for a ride.