So summer is here and you have actually been riding your bike — maybe even to work. Of course, you read Pedal Pushers and are inspired by all the positive and uplifting stories we tell. Stuff like how anyone can ride, how bikes can carry anything, how Sir Edmund actually rode a mountain bike up Everest, and how biking makes anyone more attractive. In the rosy glow of sunshine and warm weather we are here to tell you the truth: while bike riding does make everyone more attractive, sometimes beauty comes at a price
Think of this as the small print on the contract you never read, but will come back to bite you.
Let me tell you about Bike to Work week this spring. First thing, being a Pedal Pusher we have no choice but to ride that week since our already questionable credibility (some of us ride electric bikes) is on the line.
Monday dawns a pleasant drizzle but the weather man says clearing in the afternoon. Wanting to save weight off I ride with rain pants but no rain booties. With little or no hassle I get to work. My feet are still mostly dry and our employer — having realized the steaming socks in the cubicles is not attractive to clients — has provided a nice drying room and changing facilities (yes we are lucky). When 5:00 p.m. rolls around it is still raining. No worries, I am on the way home and so what if I get a bit wet.
Tuesday morning it is raining for real, but not being as dumb as some of you readers think I am I take both my rain pants and my booties. Uneventful trip to work, and again the weather man promises clearing in the afternoon. He lied, but hey, I was prepared so I had the last laugh and I remained dry both ways.
Wednesday dawns with dry roads. The weather man again says clearing in the afternoon. Great, things are looking up, no booties, no rain pants, all is good. Did I mention that on the ride to work my tail light flies off into some other dimension as I am zooming down a hill? For some reason car owners give you strange looks as you lie on the road looking under their cars for your lost light. It is ok I tell them, ”Just checking to make sure there are no car bombs on your car. You are good to go.” The end of the day arrives and there is a torrential downpour. No problem I shrug. It will move on, I will just stay a bit longer at work. Well 5:30 comes and it is raining harder if that is possible. So off I ride, and by the time I have travelled three blocks my entire self, from head to dripping toes are totally soaked. I must be 20 pounds heavier due to the retained water. Arriving at the SeaBus 25 minutes later I look like I had fallen in the harbor. Strange that no one wanted to sit beside me.
Thursday dawns and back to the rain, but I have learned my lesson and don both booties and rain pants. I am using my alternate shoes because yesterday’s shoes are still gently steaming in the corner in an attempt to dry. Surprise, surprise after crossing the harbor, the sky clears and things look almost good. I have no idea what the weather man says because I have learned this week he is out to get me. My spirits lift and then I notice my rear tire seems a bit low. No problem.
I stop, add some air and get ready to peddle up the biggest hill on my way to work. As I crest the top I realize my tire is flat again. Being a slow learner I again add air and try to make it to work. No luck! All goes flat just when I am on the Central Valley Greenway. Okay, okay I give, I will change the tire. So stopping, I proceed to fix the flat while reviewing which of the following rules of flats apply:
- Flats always occur on the way to something, never on the way back when time doesn’t matter
- Rear tires go flat more often so you can get grease on your hands and clothes
- Flats occur midpoint between either bike stores or transit stops, thus maximizing your walk
- Not having tools or spares increases your chance of a flat by at least 100%
- People will stop to help and offer assistance, but not until you are done and just putting the air back in
- Rain may occur, but only if everything else is going well
I realize I score an almost perfect 100%, only loosing points because I actually had all the tools. But I get bonus points because of the old lady with the walker who tooddles by and says don’t get too comfortable sonny or you will get a cold.
Friday is the last day. I have to ride. Did I mention that during Bike to Work week there are hospitality stations set up en route on most of the major bike paths with coffee and bike tune ups and prizes? A great system, but for some reason this year they were all wherever I was not. So no free coffee and doughnuts, but not to worry: my employer has prizes for all bikers. Having been a regular Bike to Work rider I am sure that this is the year I will win the nice rear bike light to replace the one I lost.
The fact that it is raining cannot dampen my spirits as the day begins. The weatherman still promises clearing in the afternoon. I ignore him. After all, I am going to win a new tail light.
The prize-giving happens as the rain pours down and what do I win? Suntan lotion! No light, no gloves, no rain poncho. Nothing useful. Murphy must have been a biker.
I can’t wait for the next Bike to Work week in the fall.