Bike Karma

Note: The Group Rides page is being continuously updated (moreso than the front page, as of late), so check it out if you’re tired of riding alone.  I also realize that the whole page is in need of a re-design.  Stay tuned!

See sad, broken bikes on the side of the road? A quick minute of your time could drastically improve your fellow cyclist's ride.

A couple weeks ago I planned a new route to ride which included almost the entire length of Trapelo Road in Belmont.  I knew I had ridden the route years ago and all I remembered was that it wasn’t an ideal road for bikes.  My lack of vivid memories of the semi-paved carnage of Trapelo Road may be due to two possible things.  Either:

  1. My mind was attempting to avoid post traumatic stress disorder by erasing any memory of the lack of any road markings and presence of road craters. OR:
  2. I missed news reports about an air raid on the town of Belmont, MA.

Needless to say, the road was in rough shape.  Fine.  This is New England,  and I though I did a reasonable job avoiding the must treacherous of tar divots… at least until my rear wheel took on an all-too-familiar squishy feeling that was soon accompanied by an all-too-familiar hissing sound.

Luckily, I had an extra tube and a hand pump and rapidly repaired my brutalized butyl.  Soon enough, I was on my way through Lincoln Center and on to Bedford, and Lexington.  The sun shone brightly and the temperature was in the mid 60’s, a perfect combination for an afternoon ride.  I rode carefully, though, because I knew I hadn’t pumped up my wheel all the way with my hand pump and headed toward the nearest bike shop to borrow their floor pump.

Two miles from the bike shop, the squishy feeling returned.  And the hissing sound returned.  Expletives were uttered for I hadn’t another tube.  Without any other options, I began to walk.

Luckily, I was along one of the most-traveled bike routes in the area.  Surely someone would have a tube I could trade them.  What did I have to trade them, exactly?  One chocolate chip Clif Bar semi-melted from my body heat.  Delicious.

So I walked.  And walked.  The road was eerily devoid of bicycles and their generous pilots.  I stopped to check my phone to see if there was a bus I could catch to the bike shop and a bespandexed rider flew by me before I could so much as utter a pathetic plea for help.  Shit.

And I walked.

Just before I reached the bus stop.  A cyclist heading the other way appeared and asked me if I was okay.

“Double flatted,” I responded.  “But I’m going to catch the bus at this intersection.”

He insisted on helping me out and gave me two patches before continuing on his ride.  He politely declined my molten Clif Bar and said he was glad to take on the bike karma and be on his way.

A patch kit. Bloody brilliant. I will never again leave home without one.

This got me thinking about the bond between cyclists and whether one exists at all.  When a friendly nod or wave to a fellow cyclist goes unanswered, I tend to think the idea of kinship between two people enjoying a similar and somewhat rare activity is overly optimistic.  Yet, days like the one in Lexington gave me great hope.

As two-wheeled users of the road, we share common dangers and common enjoyment.  There are a number of reasons why a cyclist my be stopped at the side of the road – maybe they’re fielding a phone call.  But, on the other hand, they may have a deep gash and are without a cell phone, or maybe they forgot to put another CO2 cartridge in their saddle bag.  Why not stop and build those karma points?  When you’re stuck on the side of the road, you’ll be glad you did.

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