Feeling Flat

This morning, I drove my Alleged Car to work for the second day in a row. O, joy.

The explanation is complicated and unsatisfactory.

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Saturday Morning, ready to depart

On Saturday, I did my usual second weekend ride up to Woodbridge to open the Family History Center, but I stuck around after the FHC closed because I was supposed to go with another member to assess some left-over damage from Hurricane Sandy later in the afternoon. So I sat, read, wrote, the usual stuff.

Around 4:00, I was picked up and we went out to Milford to inspect the situation—on a house with pilings that should have 6’ of clearance, it was down to about 2’, so that’s something we’ll need to organized. The sky was flat and gray, and it started to rain fairly hard while we were out there, but I figured I’d survive.

When I got back to the FHC where I’d left my bike (indoors) I changed into rain gear I had brought in my panniers and headed North and East, toward Hamden.

Generally, I find riding in the rain to be peaceful and happy. Roads feel smoother, the spray from under my fenders looks cool, and as long as I’m warm (the weather was cool as well as wet, so I was wearing a wool cycling sweater and “normal” shorts under rain pants and rain jacket) , it can be very Zen. So I rode north on Racebrook Road, East on Ansonia and Fountain and down under I15 into Westville. I have eyes that are sensitive to cold wet winds, so I also wore a set of these from Portland Design Works, but even so the rain was heavy enough to kind of harsh my vibe. Any time you have to wipe your lenses (in spite of a helmet visor) it’s raining a little too hard.

So there I was on Fitch when I started to notice a little bounce and roll in the rear wheel. A quick check at a stoplight verified my suspicion; the rear tire was going flat.

I shouldn’t complain—this was my first puncture since The Accident.  Heck, I had begun to suspect that my pump was getting lonely!

Fortunately, it was not going flat too quickly. A couple of times I pulled off to the side of the road and grabbed my frame pump to bring up the pressure, but that wasn’t a tenable situation given that (a) I’m heavy and (b) that I had lots of stuff with me in panniers and other bags. Fortunately, being on Fitch, I was not far from the school where I adjunct (Southern Connecticut State University), I had a place to go. Though I didn’t have m office keys with me, I suspected my building’s vestibule would be open. In fact, it was, and I was able to get into the lobby, where a couch proved useful:

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Really useful furniture, SCSU

I figured it was a small leak, and so it proved. A little hard to find, but once I located a pit in my rear tire, it was easy to verify by pulling out the tube at that spot and pumping the tire up. A nice cool stream of air. So I dug in my underseat bag, and then in my handlebar bag, for a flat kit. And then I remembered that the last place I’d seen it was on my dresser. At home.

Fortunately, I had two tubes with me—one each in the underseat and handlebar bags. I decided to use the one from the front bag, even though I remembered it as vaguely suspect for some reason. I checked for any remaining foreign object, found none, put in the tube and pumped. Soon all was well, I reloaded the Rando, and rode carefully across campus back to Fitch, stopping a couple of times to pump in more air. (As much as I like frame pumps, it’s hard to tell when you’re at the right pressure.)

I made my way back to the bike trail, and made it home without further drama. I wiped down the chain, which looks a little dirty but runs quiet (thanks to Chain-L), and the sidewalls (different rag) and went and had a long hot shower.

Next day was church, and a service project, so I didn’t get a chance to go down to the Bike Cave. Instead I helped clean out a hoarder’s apartment (imagine filling an industrial-sized dumpster with, well, everything—including multiple computers covered in cat shit, a dead cat, lots of TVs and CRTs, open cans of food, etc. In fact, we ran out of room and needed another dumpster. It was the warmest day we’d had in a while, but I wore nitrile gloves and a mask, duct-taped my jeans legs closed (based on expert advice about potential fleas), and threw away my clothes and shoes when I got home.

I took another shower—a long, long shower—and watched an episode of Manhattan on Hulu, and went to bed.

When I woke up, I went down to the Bike Cave only to find that the suspect tube was getting soft. Since I had slept late, I didn’t have time to change it, and since I knew the battery in the AC was charged, I drove all of three miles to work, and then the five to SCSCI. Blech. I think I taught a good class, but I didn’t feel jazzed the way I think I should have.

Today, I got up feeling depleted, and decided to drive again. I’ll repair the bike properly tonight.

I don’t know which came first, depression or not riding. But I feel the same kind of gray as the sky of Saturday afternoon.

Sometimes it just feels like too many things are happening, sometimes like I’m stuck in place. I do think it’s missing the bike; the hoarding situation on Sunday depressed me, and I didn’t have the bike to revive me. And that lead to the cycle of driving, not fixing, and driving again.

So tonight, I’ll put my hands to good use and bring that bike back into proper order. And tomorrow I’ll ride it to work, and I’ll ride it to SCSU, I’ll take my chances locking it up in New Haven (albeit with a good lock and rack in a relatively safe part of the city). And I suspect that with the rear tire less flat, my feelings will be as well.

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