Blowin’ in the Wind
I had no special plans for the day, but it turns out the day had plans for me.
Rain was forecast. Time enough for a ride first, so I headed out into what all available evidence suggested was an exceedingly windy morning. Big deal, I thought, I’ll just burn more calories.
I headed down the lanes then up King’s Hill Road out of Burwash with a fair amount of energy in my legs, feeling fine, singing along with my ipod when it was clear the voices in my ears weren’t classically trained. Was amused that somebody had gone to the trouble of pointing the loveseat south, as if tired of a view of scrubby vegetation.
Past the observatory (one of Jack Fuller’s less frivolous follies), nearing the large pyramid-shaped collection box,
I began to hear something.
It sounded like the front wheel was rubbing with every revolution. I got off to to examine the situation, saw nothing. On again, then quickly off again as This Would Not Do. It definitely seemed to be coming from the front, but in case my ears were deceiving me, a look at the rear tyre, a two month old Continental Grand Prix 5000, was in order. The brand is important here.
Well, I knew what it was — a nasty blowout avoided — but what was it doing on such a new acquisition? Fortunately I remembered there was an emergency boot in my saddlebag. In all my years of riding I’d never needed it. Which is to say, I had no idea how to use it. Couldn’t be too hard, right?
I situated myself near a stone wall which offered no protection from the now quite ferocious wind and got to work.
The tyre, surprisingly easy to go on, was more reluctant to come off. It turned into what I’m going to call a three-pipe problem, because nobody’s stopping me.
When I got to the boot part of the exercise I was unexpectedly flustered by the question of how to actually install it. One side seemed sticky, but it wasn’t doing a very good job of sticking. Of all the things not to have Googled in my life. Still, should be able to bung it in. This I prepared to do as the skies darkened in foreshadowing.
“Are you all right? Do you have everything you need?” said a passing cyclist as I was hunched over, my head bent as if in prayer. I was OK, but thanks! Don’t get too close!!
A minute or so later I felt a drop of wet, then another. Great. The church wasn’t far away, but would the porch be open given the sneaky wrath of god currently enveloping the globe? A few more drops decided me. I hurriedly stuffed all my paraphernalia into the saddlebag, shouldered the bike, grabbed the rear wheel, and hoped fervently.
As I neared St. Thomas a Becket, thousands of delicate blossoms started swirling from the sky. Blossoms? No, that was SNOW. If this wasn’t a sign from above that I should’ve stayed home and carried on with season 2 of The Sinner (I want to be Bill Pullman when I grow up, preferably without the masochism), I don’t know what was.
Still, if by miracle it was open, my plan was to install the boot and at least ride back home, an easy 7 miles given how hard the first 7 miles are.
The church was predictably locked down. There were no other helpful structures in the vicinity.
The bells started ringing, adding ambience.
The snow had stopped but it was bloody cold, and the sky was disinclined to reassure. This decided me: time to throw in the towel. There was just enough of a signal to call emergency services, i.e., my wife. If nothing else, this near incident was a sobering reminder of the danger of offs in these times.
She apologised for being late. Someone who shall remain anonymous had, as usual, set the handbrake too high, necessitating a wrestling match before rescue operations could commence.
All that’s left to do now is sell this: brand new, hasn’t let me down yet.