Average Speed 6.7 mph; Or, Why Every Cyclist Should Know How to Change a Flat

“Hubris” would be much too strong a word. Let’s just say that my lack of soreness after the Hotter’n Hell 50, combined with a great 15-mile ride last Monday, had further boosted my natural optimism.

So as I planned a short, 45-minute ride for 6:30 PM last Thursday, I wasn’t worried. When Brent told me my front tire had a slow leak and that he had left me a spare front wheel that I could swap out if my tire felt too soft, so be sure to check it before starting out, I wasn’t worried. Even after I pottered around and suddenly realized it was 6:50 (less than an hour before sunset) and I hadn’t even pulled on my bike shorts, I wasn’t worried. I’ll just go shorter, I decided, filling a water bottle.

It didn’t take long to get ready, and my front wheel still felt pretty firm, so off I zoomed with about 45 minutes of daylight left. Rather than risk losing light, I opted for a half-hour ride. My phone was charging in the kitchen so I just left it. I wasn’t worried; I would be no more than 3½ miles from home. What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out my selected turnaround point is somewhat farther from home than I thought. But that’s what the extra time is for, to allow for these little glitches. I wasn’t worried as I turned around and started back. The bike computer showed my average speed as 13.6.

A few minutes later, my bike started clattering and the ride felt bumpy. Odd… the pavement looks smooth, for chip-seal. Then I remembered the leaking front tire. Surely it hadn’t… Nope, the front looked normal. I rode a bit farther but the clattering continued. So I looked down again, this time at the rear tire.

Flatter than a road map. And me with no phone, of course.

🙂 Good news: A little toolbag strapped to my bike carries tire levers, a spare tube and two CO2 cartridges for inflating it. Everything you need for changing a flat.
😦 Bad news: Having only watched Brent change a tire perhaps once per decade, I really can’t do it myself. Knowing this, I figured I’d get home quicker on foot.

Off I went, walking my bike. My thick metal cleats gave me an awkward, rather lumpy gait, not to mention slipping on the hard road surface. Pretty soon I took my shoes off and carried them in my other hand. This was when I learned that the “flat” pebbles making up the chip-seal surface aren’t. Aren’t flat, that is. Within a quarter mile my feet were a mite tender.

Everything you need to change a flat ... ummm... assuming you know how...

When I came to a nice sturdy gate across a gravel drive, I decided to just see if maybe I could figure out how to change the stupid flat. I leaned my bike against the gate, put my shoes back on, emptied the bag of tools and looked from them to the rear wheel. Inspiration failed me. The first step, I finally recalled, is to shift gears so the chain is on the last cog. But… last one toward the inside or the outside? I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say that I could not get the wheel off. And, as anticipated, the effort had done nothing but waste minutes of fading daylight.

What’re ya gonna do? I latched my shoes and kept going, this time crossing to the left side of the road and walking just off the pavement in the much-less-slippery grass. I wasn’t worried.

A mile or so later, some big ol’ dog with a muscular jaw and suspicious nature loudly questioned my right to the road in front of his house. Sweet-talking him didn’t work, as it sometimes doesn’t, but at least he ran off toward the house. Aaaaand brought back reinforcements, in the form of two even bigger, louder dogs. Crud. I quit worrying about being eaten and got bossy. “No!” I scolded them. “Stay in the yard!” They eased off after it occurred to me to cross the road, away from their property.

Turning onto the road that leads to our neighborhood felt nice, even though I was still 1.25 miles from home. It got darker by the minute and though I passed a few friends’ houses, none showed any lights. Oh well, I’m nearly there.

Dusk deepened as I entered the neighborhood. Within moments some kids approached me with school fund-raisers. Bless their hearts, I couldn’t even see the brochure. That’s when Brent drove by en route home, saw me and offered a ride. When we loaded the bike into his car, the computer showed 7.2 miles and an average speed of 6.7.

And that is why every cyclist should know how to change a flat.

Thanks for reading!
Tailwinds — and no worries,

PS: I’m linking up with Jen at Soli Deo Gloria. Please pray for Texas as our drought drags on, especially for areas threatened by wildfires, like the city where Jen lives.

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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7 Responses to Average Speed 6.7 mph; Or, Why Every Cyclist Should Know How to Change a Flat

  1. Jen says:

    Jan — you are such a blessing. Thank you for the prayer request on our behalf. Is everything okay where you are?

    I loved this story. I love your humor. Coming here always puts me in a better mood.


    • Jan says:

      Hi, Jen! Everything is fine in our immediate area, just smallish roadside fires. There have been fires all around my hometown, though, burning a lot of ranch land and pinewoods. I so enjoyed the blogs I visited today. Thanks for hosting Soli Deo Gloria! Love you, Jan


  2. Cindy Gise says:

    I recently attended a class to learn how to change a tire. So when I had my first flat I was prepared. Unfortunately I had left the repair kit at the house! Thank goodness the SAG wagon was willing and able to come to the rescue!


  3. Ah, this was a great read. Bicycling is not for the faint of heart, I see.So, have you now learned how to change a flat?



    • Jan says:

      Hi, Glenda! Yes, I have had one lesson — I got to change the self-same tire I had written about, with many puzzled questions and much grunting. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that one has to practice, but I am determined. Thanks for the comment!


  4. Pingback: “Diesel-Pickup Guy” | Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

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