Dirty Little Secrets & Kewt Fingernails
A few years ago, I was driving around the University of Houston campus trying to find the location of a state-wide Alpha Chi meeting I was supposed to be attending. As I drove slowly in the dark looking for the building, my car began to shake and list to the right, I had a flat tire. No worries, Al Plummer loves his overly girly middle child, but didn’t let that girliness get in the way of teaching her how to change a tire. So there I was on the side of the road, in the dark, on what seemed to be a deserted campus, unloading the tire iron, jack and spare tire. I got a little dirty and was glad I happened to have an extra shirt in my car to change into so as not to go to the meeting covered in tire yuck. I got the flat tire off, put the full-size spare on and was back on my way within 10 minutes. Yup, daddy didn’t raise no helpless women.
This past Saturday morning, I rode hills with 8 of my teammates. We were given three different options varying from easy, medium to reasonably difficult. We were told what pace to shoot for on each repeat and we took off. Being the ever lazy individual that I am, I opted for the “middle” option. Choosing not to acknowledge that in five short months I’d once again be communing with the Canadian out-of-doors in all of its brutally unapologetic hilliness, thus the difficult option would go a long ways toward getting me strong and ready for that race. Nope, I was okay with phoning it in. But then, EVERYONE (at least the three people in front of me) decided to do the difficult option. Thus, being not only lazy, but also unable to resist peer pressure, I changed my mind and did my repeats on the difficult route.
Round and round we rode, first easy, then medium, then full-bore. On the fourth time through the route, as I crested the final downhill before the turnaround to go back to the start, I heard a strange metallically/rubber sound. Before my bike gained speed on the downhill, I hopped off, checked both my tires and BAM (pun intended), my back tire was completely flat. Now, I wanna tell you some awesome story about how Al Plummer raised a child who can flourish in all situations, but in the interest of total transparency, daddy never taught me how to change a flat, let alone a flat on the back tire of my bike.
My coach who’d been patrolling the route providing feedback rode up to me as I stood looking perplexed and asked what the issue was. I pointed out my flat, he asked if I’d changed a tire before. My response: “yeah, on the front of the bike, not the back.” He did all the fancy stuff to take off the back wheel and then gave me the wheel to remove the tire. After about…ohhhhh….let’s say 20 seconds, he realized I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, in my defense, I had changed a bike tire before…TWICE...under the guidance of a well versed bike mechanic, never on my own. After watching me unsuccessfully try to pry the tire away from the rim, his response: “I’ve learned today that if my athlete gets a flat, the race is over. Give me that.” He put out his hand and I handed him the wheel, looking down at my hands, covered in dirt and said, “I’m glad I didn’t do my nails last night. That’s why I stopped wearing acrylics, because I thought they’d interfere with a quick tire change.” His response: a snort…just a snort…
I won’t bore you with the next ten minutes of tire changing education and “that’s what she said” one-liners that were being passed back and forth between him and another teammate who had stopped to document the educational moment in pictures. Suffice it to say two tubes and three CO2 cartridges later, I was back on the road pushing pavement.
The dirty little secret? This is my fifth year racing and my coach was right; dude, the race is over if the SAG (support and gear) car doesn’t come ‘round when I get a flat. It’s okay, I’m not concerned. I’ve got a couple months before my first triathlon of the season, I foresee myself implementing a lot of tire changing practice between now and then.
And in other news, I did my nails that night. They look really pretty. I hope I don’t get another flat soon.