Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter riding

I don’t ride my bike when there’s snow or ice around, which means that I don’t get to ride at all during the winters in Minsk. Sometimes in Boston I get all bundled up and ride when it’s cold, and sometimes we get lucky and I don’t even have to wear my warmest jackets. Saturday was one of those days. Although we had plenty of snow a few days before, temperatures jumped and I felt pretty good about the roads after a couple days’ thaw.

I told Alla that I’d go out for an hour or so just to stretch my legs, but I couldn’t do it. After an hour, I was still riding away from home, having a great time. The sun warmed my face and body, reflected off of the abundant snow still coating yards and parks. I felt fully alive, and connected with the world. Stopping alongside the Stony Brook Reservation I got out my phone to take this picture for my blog. As I stood there, phone in hand, a nice lady stopped her car to make sure I was OK.

Finally the road dipped out of the sun as I approached the Blue Hills Reservation and I decided I’d better turn back. I raced the early sunset and got home well enough before dark, invigorated and happy.

Wanting to share the experience, I talked Alla into taking a couple of tandem-bike rides with me in the next days. The snow has been melting away quickly, but the riding has been really great.

Yesterday I decided to reprise my Saturday ride, but this time I rode my fixie. A fixie is a fixed-gear bike. This means that if the wheels are turning, my legs are turning. And I can’t change gears. The hills are harder to get up, and harder to get down. It’s a very simple bike, and I like to ride it in winter because it’s a lot of work and it keeps me warm. Also, there’s not much to break, and the first rule of winter riding is to make sure your equipment won’t fail you.

Knowing the rule doesn’t mean I inspected my bike. I just rode it, almost as far as I went on Saturday. It would have been really inconvenient if anything had gone wrong so far from home, but I got my blowout about two or three miles from here. BANG! Suddenly I felt bare rim rumbling on hard asphalt. I got off my bike and thought about how cold I would get changing my tire in the chilly breeze. In preference to a taxi, I brought my bike into the center of an apartment complex where the wind couldn’t reach me. My overdue inspection revealed severe problems with the rear tire. Rubber peeled away from the casing in a couple of places, one of which opened into a significant hole matching a big hole in the tube within.

Normally I could not have gotten home on such a badly-damaged tire, but I was happy to discover a large supply of slime-green speed patches in a pocket of my tool kit. I stuck a mosaic of those dots onto the inside of the tire and layered in a dollar bill to give the tube some extra protection. Then I put everything back around a new tube and rode slowly home. Miraculously, I got all the way back without a second blowout.

I feel very good about the whole thing, especially because I was listening to this as I wrote the last part of this story. I'll say something about jazz in general and Duke Ellington in particular some other time.

1 comment:

  1. Based on previous experience, I figured it would be a miracle if I got home on that patched tire. So then I thought that if I want a miracle I'd better pray for it, which I did the first part of the ride home. Today, when I went to replace the bad tire, I found the air gone and discovered a pea-sized hole in the tube. I guess I got my miracle, because there was still air in the tire when I arrived yesterday. (The piece of casing that punctured the tube apparently plugged the hole long enough for me to get back.)