Friday, March 03, 2006

Woman on the Verge of a Blowout

In the past two weeks I have ridden over a number of squirrels – not, as you might presume, because my riding speed is faster than a locomotive, but because the squirrels were already dead. Plentiful numbers of them are being squished by passing autos as they are lured out of their winter hibernation by the first glimmers of spring. Disrespectful though it may sound, I end up running over them too, as they litter the roads in their tragically flattened state at the rate of about four per mile.

So naturally when I first started feeling the lump I thought of the squirrels. But I quickly realized the lump sensation was occurring with each rotation of the tire, and since it was unlikely I was running over one squirrel per yard, I wondered absently if was just re-living the horror of the squirrel corpse incidents – the way nightmarish events sometimes replay themselves mercilessly in your brain to try to torture you to death.

At other points, such as when riding on sidewalks, I tried to attribute it to the tires passing over cracks in the pavement – but the timing was off.

Finally, instead of hasty, inquisitive glances at my wheels as I got on or off my bike, I examined the back tire carefully and discovered the bead line was swollen as much as ¾ of an inch away from the rim in several places.

I reacted almost like I’d discovered a tumorous growth on some part of my body. Yipes, I thought. This is serious! And I immediately changed course from a cruise in the direction of the gym to a beeline over to the bike shop.

Hugh the bike mechanic said that’s how tires die. If they’re not punctured first, they eventually blow out their sides. "The wall is the weakest part of a tire.” He could not give me a prognosis for how long it had left to live, so I opted not to take a chance on a blowout in the dark in a bad part of town and had him fix it right then.

I want to recommend the tires I’ve been riding on since I started this bicycling project summer before last. No broken bottle exists that can cut through them -- I’ve found myself running over countless sharp edges of every description and nothing ever happens.

You’ll want to know what brand and kind they are but since I don’t feel like crawling back into warm clothes, groping my way out to the garage, wrestling with the door, and standing on my head with a flashlight, I’ll check back in with you tomorrow when I’ve had a chance to extract the information under more friendly conditions. I will also provide cost and type information on what I replaced one of them with, and why. If you can just hold on for another day, you’ll have all that data.


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