Out the door 9:15 Sunday morning. Panic sets in. You're running late for the plaza ride and your coffee-scalded tongue is not helping. The nine-o'clock ride usually leaves now, but hey, when has GCC ever left on time?
You figure a few racer types are impatiently circling around while Chandler drones on about safety stuff and whatnot. The fog is lifting and the caffeine's kicking in as you glimpse University Avenue ahead. You're going to make it.
Suddenly, Pow! Hissss! Your little world collapses into a hellish nightmare of petrochemical failure. Flat tire. And whether you call them pops, pinches, punctures, snake bites, rim riding, or steel wheeling, the result is the same, a truly deflating experience. You've just been dissed by Vulcan, the rubber god.
Frantically ripping off your rear wheel (It's always the rear, ain't it?) you get down to the greasy job of wondering if the guys will wait. Not only is your forward motion rudely interrupted but you realize you are at the whims of an impersonal pack psychology. Whether you are freewheeling along Lakeshore Drive or raging down Dungarvin in the big ring, a flat tire immediately establishes your place in the peloton pecking order.
For Whom Does the Pack Wait?
Now, club rides are not supposed to be as vicious as races, but tell yourself that while standing on some lonely stretch of highway 18, wheel in hand, watching your former friends getting smaller and smaller on the horizon.
Why didn't they wait? Probably because you didn't last week Homer! And yet, the peloton must share some of the blame. The collective social conscience of the pack is that of a brain-dead, single-celled amoeba. It has no eyes to see your frantic arm waving nor ears to hear your lonely pleas. Yeah, a few riders may glance back and meekly cajole riders to wait. But, like sheep, few wish to leave the safety of the flock and quickly drop the issue. As the line from David Byrnes song Swamp Thing goes, "when your hands get dirty, nobody knows you at all."
So here are a few tips to avoid this awful social snubbing:
How to Avoid Them
You can't. Stuff happens. Some cheesehead is always going to slam dunk a Bud bottle in the bike lane. Some wrench is always going to be a little slow sweeping up cable clippings under his bike stand.
But there are a few things you can do:
By following these flat-avoidance techniques you may not win every training ride, but at least you'll often finish ahead of all those whining losers who keep flatting.