Oh, Stella!, I have not treated you well.
You may remember a few weeks ago, when Stella! and I were riding down to Oregon City, she got a flat, a nail punctured her tire. Waiting for the bus to take us back downtown, I knew it was time to learn to care for Stella! properly.
Before moving to Portland, Oregon, two years ago, I hadn’t owned a bike since I was a kid (a lapse of more than a couple decades). For my first year, I was a fair weather cyclist – riding on Saturday or Sunday, but only if sunny. Not to go anywhere, just to ride. Now, I ride daily – to get places whether for work or, more likely, to get to my favorite bakeries and restaurants.
The other morning I was one of a dozen bikes waiting for a light to turn green. During a morning commute, it is common for eight or more bikes to gather at each light.
When Stella! and I rode over the Hawthorne Bridge with the other commuters last week, we were the 1,426th bike to cross the bridge before 8:30 am. That makes for fewer cars on the road. Cycle Oregon donated the bike counter or “barometer” that was installed on the bridge. The barometer not only tracks the number of bikes that cross the bridge, it also stores data about time of day and the weather.
(For those of you that know my commute route, the extra few miles to go over the Hawthorne Bridge makes sense if you know that I made a detour to “little t baker” for breakfast, lemon curd and a biscuit that was as light as a cloud.)
I like commuting by bike, but even more, I like to ride just for fun and those rides have started to get longer – forty to fifty miles. Although Stella! had to bear the brunt of the pain, the flat tire happened at the best possible time. It was a wakeup call. As my rides got longer, I was starting to long for rides in the countryside, but so far – even my forty mile rides – had stayed safely within the city. A short walk or a bus ride would get me to a bike shop for repairs. (To get this view, I never left Portland.)
With Stella!’s flat, I realized had we been in the countryside, I would have had no idea how to change a tire. Yes, the concept is simple – remove wheel, take off tire, replace tube, put back on.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I had no idea how to change a tire.
Wouldn’t have mattered because I wasn’t carrying a spare or even a patch.
Picturing myself stuck on the side of the road, I decided to learn how to change a tire. I went to a clinic at my local bike shop, the Bike Gallery, on how to repair a flat. When the time comes, it may still take me a while to change the tire, but at least I’ll know how. The class was so helpful, that I went back for a bike maintenance class, learning simple tasks to keep your bike in good working condition.
After that class, all I can say is, oh, Stella!, I have not treated you well.