Empress Of The Innertube

ironmantra by Shannon Thompson

Somehow, with all the miles I’ve put on in the last 7 years, I’ve only had one flat tire, and at the time I was only a mile away from my destination so I hitched a ride back and let some guy deal with it. See, as independent as I am, I am a big fat chicken when it comes to things mechanical. I don’t like to fix things. I like the feeling of having fixed things, but the uncertainty and fumbling around and crushed knuckles and ripped nails? No thanks.

Coach Scott suffered two flat tires during his Ironman race last year, and he’s been exhorting me to practice changing flats so it doesn’t kill my time if it happens to me. So I’ve been watching YouTubes and switching tires in my living room over the winter and spring, feeling reasonably adept in the comfort of my home but a little queasy about the prospect of dealing with a real-life flat.

Yesterday it finally happened. I was 10 miles from home on Route 90, with 62 miles behind me, when suddenly my rear tire went whompwhompwhompwhwomp. I was racing to get home in time for work and had almost no juice left in my phone battery. Ruh roh, I thought. Hot, dusty, greasy, tired, thirsty, late. This could get complicated really quickly.

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But no. I whipped that wheel right off the bike, got the tube out, found the staple that caused the whole thing, replaced the tube and blew it right up with the CO2 cartridge I’ve carried around all these years but never used. Just like that. Which is no big deal for most people, but I felt like repairshop royalty at that moment. The empress of innertubes, the boss of bicycle grease. The slayer of staples.

A couple stopped across the road to switch drivers and asked if I was OK.

Oh HECK yeah.

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Made it home just in time to scrub the grease out from under my nails and get to work.