Learning from Experiences

On my way to work this morning a little before 7 a.m., my bike got a flat tire. Too far along to turn around, I walked the rest of the way resolving to deal with the flat after work. So after work, I picked up my car, picked up the bike, and set forth to repair the damage. Only problem was, I wasn’t quite sure where to start.

My first thought was to take it to the shop down the street, and Boyfriend suggested calling a friend, but I thought I should be able to do this myself. I’ve seen bike tubes changed before, twice on this bike in fact, and there comes a time when the only way to understand something is to do it yourself.

So I started pulling the bike apart. First I struggled to get the tire off the wheel using a rusty screwdriver, then to take the tube out of the tire, wondering all the while if I was making it worse. Then I got stuck on how to get the around the chain and off the back tire. The nuts on the wheel were rusted and I was making no progress twisting at them with my little adjustable wrench. Boyfriend again suggested that we call a friend, while I hotly insisted that I knew what I had to do, I just wasn’t sure how to do it. He went upstairs, leaving me to grunt at the bike, and wish I had more tools.

The nuts were not moving, no matter how hard I tugged. I wasn’t sure if I was pulling the right way. Apparently my bike had never heard of “righty tighty lefty loosey” or maybe I was mixing up my right and my left again. I heard my dad’s voice saying, “how do you think you do this?”

Growing up, my father’s response to most questions was to ask the question back again. “What time is it?” was met with “what time is it?” prompting a quick glance at a clock. “How do you spell ambidextrous?” led to “how can you find out?” forcing a trip to the Dictionary or, as we got older, to Google.  “Can I have this?” at a store was followed by “where is your wallet?” We learned, whether we liked it or not, to do for ourselves. We learned to trust what we thought was right, without having to rely on or double check against the opinions of others.

So there I was, tugging on a bicycle nut, knowing that I knew what to do and the time had come to just do it. I’d seen the tube changed by two experts. I could feel with each step that I was going in the right direction, and if I could just get the damn nuts off, I could finish the job.

Eventually the nuts slipped, and I got the back wheel off the frame of the bike. From there it was a simple trip to the sports supply store for a new tube and I was back in business (after getting gas and taking a nap, I was a little cranky).

Putting the bike back together proved much easier than taking it apart had been. The tube went in smoothly to the tire. The tire fit snugly back on to the wheel. The wheel slid easily back on to the frame. I blew up the tire again, wishing for a gauge, but the tire will survive the night without one (I hope).

I changed my first tire. It took the better part of the day and caused a little bit of an argument, but I did it. And we’ll see tomorrow whether I did it right when I take the bike out again. If not, it is an opportunity for some more experience.

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