I’m not about to stick my butt where it doesn’t belong so I’m going to be talking about a rhetorical situation here…
You’re out on a club ride, say a decent one, but a slower noob ride – we’ll use my Tuesday night mileage: 33 miles. Half way out a noob in the group who just happens to come up with a flat, something simple – she picked up a staple (it’s happened to me). You stop with her to make sure she’s ok and come to find out that she doesn’t have a spare tube with her. Not only that, but because she’s short, she’s got a bike with 650’s instead of 700’s, so nobody else has a tube to loan her either.
I know what you’re thinking – while you’re reading this, and that’s a feat in and of itself because you’re on a computer –
“What do you mean you don’t have a spare tube?”
Now, if my ESP is messed up, which happens from time to time, and you were actually thinking, “what’s wrong with that?”
This post is for you.
Oh noobish noob, there are a few things that we folks who ride bicycles, we’ll call us cyclists just for fun, carry with us at all times. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about this list. There is no argument that will hold water against carrying them – you must carry the following items with you at all times if you ride a road bike – a mountain bike is a little different, but a hybrid is not, and I’ll explain that soon enough. The list:
2 pc tire lever set. They cost about $3 at your local bike shop.
1 spare inner tube, the proper size and stem length for your bike: $5-$10
1 tire pump (frame mounted or buy a small CO2 pump – I carry the latter): $25-$35
1 presta stem adapter: $1.50 (trust me on this, buy it)
1 spoke tool $6-$7
Patch Kit: $2.99
Some spare change – paper and metal both – or better yet, your debit/credit card and ID
This will all fit in a small to medium-sized saddle bag – $20-$30. The Specialized Wedgie Bag is the perfect size to fit everything you need.
If you live in an area that has bad roads, or roads strewn with litter, or in a bad part of town, OR if you ride a bike with odd sized tires, it is wise to carry a second tube. This second tube will more than likely not fit in the saddle bag. If that’s the case, put the boxed tube in a ziplock bag and put that tube in your jersey pocket (the ziplock bag will keep your shirt from getting dirty and the box from getting wet and the stem from corroding from the salt from your sweat).
This list is non-negotiable, irrefutable and important.
If you do not have these things in your saddle bag (or in your jersey pockets) and you flat, enjoy your walk… You might want to sling your bike over your shoulder and carry it – you don’t want to damage the rim too.
If you are wise enough to carry these items and do not know how to change a tire, one of the club members will walk you through it – it takes all of 5-10 minutes to be back up and riding again.
Now, mountain bikes are a little different. They’re a lot less prone to puncturing because of the knobby tires. Even so, do you really want to walk that bike back to the car? Consider carrying a set on your mountain bike. Hybrids have road tires. The price for using light weight tires is that they flat – even the kevlar lined one’s. When you’re old enough to buy your own bike, ride it long distances at your whim and join a cycling club, you are old enough to take responsibility for yourself. Be prepared or be walkin’. It’s no skin off my back.
This post is rather harsh, in a funny way – I had to make it interesting for those of us who know better already, but still get all of the pertinent info in there. Please accept my humblest apologies if you are offended. You won’t be so offended when you flat and you’re prepared. If you happen to be a cyclist and know a noob, please pass the link to this post on to them – there are actually people out there who don’t know any better!
For my interesting search string of the day, the odd search that led someone to my blog: what does this mean? “nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.” -samuel johnson
So I thought I’d take a minute and actually explain it as that search popped up more than once. What that means is that if you have to figure everything out, all of the possible angles and outcomes of a situation and their difficulties, and try to work all of that out in your favor before attempting something, nothing will ever be attempted because it’s just too hard to anticipate everything that could go wrong.
There’s another more sinister meaning: If the attempt of something requires that I sort out everyone’s possible objections to my desire to do something, nothing will be attempted because someone will always take umbrage.
For the first, let’s take something as simple as a long bike ride. If I have to figure out and plan for every objectionable outcome that could possibly happen on a journey, and then make preparations to be prepared for each of those outcomes, I’ll never get out the front door – too many things could go wrong even though the chance of even one thing going wrong is somewhere between slim and none. Many difficulties that can arise on a long bike ride can be handled relatively easily and take up little space – tire levers, a spare tube, a patch kit, a multi-tool, a CO2 pump and a wallet all fit in a saddle bag. Most of the difficulties that can occur on a bike ride can be remedied with those items… But what if your frame cracks? What if a wheel bearing wears out, what if your head tube wears out, what if ad infinitum… If those possibilities must be sorted out prior to leaving the confines of the garage, you might as well kick the cat and sit back down on the recliner, because you can’t prepare for those.
For the second, let’s say I want to expand my company but doing so is a risky proposition. Let’s say for argument’s sake that I have a nervous Nancy for a business partner. When I explain my plans he lays out a bunch of objections… “It’s too risky because I have kids to feed and a house to keep and cats and a lawn to mow… And what happens if you fail? We could lose everything that we’ve worked for.” He then lays out a bunch of scenarios in which I could actually fail and lose everything… If I have to plan out answers to all of the objections, I’ll never get started because the reality is he’s happy with where we’re at and no matter how many contingencies I plan for, he’ll be able to think of more. If I have to overcome all objections first, I’ll never be able to get to the attempt.
In other words, sometimes you’ve just gotta shut the hell up and go for it.
This may read strangely, but there is one thing about fitness blogging that fascinates me and makes me quite happy; the traffic on my blog crashes every weekend. In fact, there was a time a while back where I took the hint and only bothered posting inspirational clips from YouTube on Saturdays. As my cycling mileage has gone through the roof, that’s changed quite a bit – there’s a lot to write about now and I usually need those two days just to fit everything in.
Now with the WordPress App on my iPhone, I rarely spend any time sitting behind the computer on the weekend. Truth be told, unless I’ve got work that absolutely must be done, I can’t stand firing it up – it’s too much like work, even if it’s just to check up on new posts from all of the blogs that I follow. Of course, with the Reader that comes in the App, I don’t have to. I can handle my entire blog, all of the comments, posts and stat checks right on my phone.
I’m sure there are people out there who are bummed if their traffic dips, particularly on two specific days every week but in the group that I run in, that’s good news. We’re all out training, exercising and getting the best out of life, and that’s what it’s all about, not sitting behind a computer trying to figure out how many virtual friends you have.
I went out on what was intended to be a really slow recovery ride yesterday afternoon. With the wife and kids taking our niece down to the airport for her flight home they weren’t expecting to be back before 8 pm so I had plenty of time. My legs were feeling quite a bit wiped out even after a day off. I did pretty well, at the beginning, to keep my speed down too, which is quite the departure from my normal… Usually I’m on the gas just as soon as I clip in but I can still feel the effects of my Century on Saturday so I managed to stave off my normal urge to roll out – at least for a couple of miles, actually almost exactly two, before I started winding it up.
Getting into town (and heading into the wind) I slowed it down a bit before hitting the main road west. With the wind at my back I really started rolling but decided to stop by Assenmacher’s to talk to Matt for a minute. We got to talking about the distance rides, his century coming up and about how everything played out at the Tour des Lacs while he was working on a woman’s road/tri bike… Eventually the conversation evolved to what I was doing for mileage and speed while I was out and I told him that I was trying to take it easy after Saturday because I’d cramped up pretty bad after the ride and was still feeling quite tight. The tri-girl mentioned that I should try electrolyte caps and asked what I did to remedy the situation… She looked just a touch more than surprised when I told her that my remedy was a double quarter pounder and medium fries. Her remark was, “Oh, the pink stuff, but you’re so skinny”(?). As with most vegetarians, I got to hear one more time, about how meat always made her feel “bad” after she ate it – of course, I always assume this as “physical” bad, I presume she could have meant “mental” bad but that just seems too silly. I won’t bother getting into the rocket science of protein, exercise and the fact that burning a lot of calories requires a lot of food.
Before I get into the remainder of the discussion about meat (pink stuff), I would like to point out that the Double QP value meal actually makes a lot of sense. Here’s why: I’d consumed more than enough water on my ride. In addition, I drank 64 oz of Gatorade. Even so, my legs were cramping really bad, so what’s next in line that I could be deficient in? Salt. From there, it’s well-known that McDonald’s hamburgers in particular are high in sodium. A Double QP and medium fries later and I was no longer cramping. Amazing how that works. Now, did I find this path from a great wealth of knowledge in how the human body works? Of course not, had I been able to draw on that I’d have had the electrolyte caps in the first place. It just seemed to make sense as things were happening – and it worked so I must have been right. In addition, when the DQP popped into my head as the thing to eat, it could definitely be labeled a “craving”. Spend enough time paying attention to what your body needs and it’ll give you a little heads-up in the form of a craving. When I crave a salad, I’m on the greens just like I am a burger. When I crave fruit, I’m all over the apples (bananas are a staple with me, I never crave a banana).
Now, with that explanation out-of-the-way we can get to the meat of the issue. Vegetarians never cease to amaze me. First of all, rarely are they as thin as they think they are, and even if they are thin, the vast majority of them look sickly as hell. Now, tri-chick, she was absolutely thin – a whole lot skinnier than I am, but she didn’t pass the “sickly as hell” test. She was literally skin and bones held together with a few strands of muscles and tendons and because she looked to be quite a bit older than me – which means she was probably my age + or – 2 years – she looked beat (tired). Of course, as all vegetarians do, she went on for a time about how good she felt. Well, I’ll tell you folks, she may very well feel good. It’s distinctly possible… She sure didn’t look it though.
Now, what happened next, I have a little shame in admitting… As she talked to Matt about vegetarianism and how good it makes her feel, I described my lunch to one of the other technicians: A Famous Dave’s Ultimate BBQ Burger (Dear God is it good): “A juicy ground beef patty beneath a pile of Georgia Chopped Pork with two strips of jalapeño bacon, melted sharp American cheese and our signature Beam & Cola BBQ sauce”. I followed that up with the notion that I’d have a few hot dogs for dinner – hot dogs always make the veges cringe… That’s when Matt jumped in and accused me, rather correctly, of teasing her. I did plan on having hot dogs for dinner, though I scrapped that for something vastly healthier, but I didn’t need to add insult to injury.
In the end, I just don’t understand vegetarians. Their insistence (or rather persistence?) on epistemic closure is rather befuddling.
I just thought of something interesting… Now I know there are plenty of runners, triathletes and cyclists who go the vegetarian route, but I’ve never heard of a vegetarian mountain biker. Is there such a thing?