July 14, 2002

miles to go: 1,055.58 [dammit]

A punctured bicycle tube makes a distinctive sound ... especially when you're cruising along the trail at 43,783,912 mph at the moment it blows. It sounds a little bit like this:

ohhhhhhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

The sound is particularly distressing whenflat tire #1 this isn't the first flat tire you've had this month ... or this weekend ... or even THIS AFTERNOON.

It means that your ride is almost certainly over, practically before it began.

It means that everything you've done so far this weekend to try and *fix* the problem  --  patching the tube ... replacing the tube when patching it doesn't work ... going back to the bike shop and talking to the store owner about his stoopid defective tubes ... checking for thorns/broken glass/whale bone fragments in the tire ... checking for obvious (and not-so-obvious) flaws in the wheel rim and the inside of the tire and all the other logical places one would check for flaws ... checking to make sure the tire is seated properly, so the wire bead isn't pinched against the edge of the rim ... realigning the parallel flange indicators ... swathing the tube in the warm and protective embrace of Mr. Tuffy ... calling all of the bike-smart people you flat tire #43,897,281know for advice (and a couple of the not-so-smart ones, just because you're desperate  --  has been a big fat waste of time, energy and money *molecules.*

It means that you'll be spending the next thirty-seven minutes standing off to one side of the trail again, looking cute and useless, while your husband attempts to patch things together enough to get you home.

It means that eventually you're probably going to have to find a comfortable spot to sit and wait and commune with ants for an hour, while your husband rides back to the car and comes to rescue you and your stoopid flat tire again.

And it means you're not going to be cracking that magic *halfway* point in your attempt to ride 2,002 miles.

At least ... not THIS weekend.

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