Why you should always have a backup

This morning I got all my gear on (I do mean ALL — it was 16 degrees when I left the house [that's -8 C for you furriners]) and proceeded to ride merrily away.  8 miles into the ride (That’s about 12.8 km, foreign devils) I noticed that the bike wasn’t steering normally, and I pulled over to find that my front tire was going flat.  Not a big surprise, really.  We had gale-force winds yesterday afternoon when a big cold front went through, and there was debris all over the roads.

No big deal, right?  I have a spare tube, and a pump, etc.  So I get out my tire pump.  The handle is stuck, so I pull on it a little harder– and it pops right out of the pump.  It’s busted.   Perhaps not actually designed for these temperatures.

At this point, I stop to mentally kick myself a few times.

I have, at home on another bike, a CO2 pump that would have solved the whole problem.  It doesn’t weigh much, it would be easy to carry it in the panniers, and I’m an idiot for leaving it home.

I have an emergency backup of EVERYTHING.  Else.   I have pepper spray for dogs, and also an ultrasonic “dog remote.”  I have a 9-volt battery in case the battery pack for my headlight runs out.  I have extra batteries for the front and rear flashers.  I have an extra taillight that I don’t turn on normally.  I’ve got flashing lights on my helmet in case other lights run out.  I have a spare pair of gloves.  I have a patch kit in case the spare tube gets a hole.  I have a multi-tool in case I lose my screwdriver.  I have three pairs of glasses.  No, four, plus three sets of interchangeable lenses for the bike glasses.   I have an extra balaclava, in case –God knows what– happens to the one I’m wearing.  Why don’t I have a spare pump?

Okay, got that over with.  Next I pulled out my cell phone and looked at it stupidly for about 10 seconds.  Should I call Robin?  Nah.  A) She’d be late to class if she came and got me and B) I’d never hear the end of it.  Who do I know who both has a pickup truck and is likely to be awake at 6:40 AM?  I called Walt, who came and got me — he was already at work, as usual.

So later today I’m going to the bike shop to return the broken pump and get something a bit more substantial.  I know this won’t be a problem, as it’s a Serfas pump, and Serfas exchanges or refunds no questions asked.  And my local bike shop is great anyway.  Meanwhile, I guess I’ll go teach genetics.

12 Responses to “Why you should always have a backup”

  1. Erin says:

    ugh–i bet standing out in that cold waiting was miserable.

    walt really goes in that early?! jeez…i had no idea.

  2. Allen says:

    I was actually not too cold. Admittedly it’s warmer when you’re pedaling, but I have some really nice winter gear.

    Walt’s kind of an insomniac. He wakes up worrying about stuff and comes to the office.

  3. Travis says:

    I was wondering why you carry a Russian folk guitar with you.

  4. Allen says:

    Well, Travis, sometimes I’m just overcome with the urge to dance.

  5. K says:

    Hooray for insomniacs! (In this case, anyway.) I am still fairly stunned by your level of preparedness. How do you get all that stowed? My pannier is fairly stuffed once it’s got my handbag, my lock, my lunch and a change of clothing in it… and I’m sorry to say I don’t carry any of the backups you do.

    I do appreciate your translation of the temperatures (although I can do miles). Were you actually riding in the gale-force winds? I would definitely not last even eight miles in the winds we’ve been having: it’s a mere 25mph this evening, and cycling felt more like sailing. Fortunately, it’s only three miles home.

  6. Allen says:

    No, no, I drove yesterday. I knew the storm was coming, and besides, Tuesday is Choral Union rehearsal, and I don’t get out until 9 PM. I won’t ride home in the dark, so I always drive on Tuesdays.

    As for stowing it all, I have two panniers, and they’re fairly large. So it all fits easily. Besides, I was a Boy Scout. So I have to Be Prepared. As well as being trustworthyloyalhelpfulfriendlycourteouskindobedientcheerfulthriftybravecleandandreverent.

  7. Reno says:

    According to my friend Pat, you left out two words.


    Of course, Pat had to be deeply closeted the whole time he worked for the BSA, so his tacking that on now could be seen as a form of post-BSA celebration.

  8. Allen says:

    Thanks for the help, Pat. I have to say that scouting’s anti-gay stance in recent years has really marred my feelings toward the organization. When I was a kid, I suppose that they were anti-gay but never thought to mention it formally.

    Hell, when I was a kid what I knew about homosexuality came from those movies that they used to show in school assembly where they warned you to stay away from creepy older guys in fedoras who wanted to show you dirty postcards.

  9. Reno says:

    I assure you, Pat does not now wear, nor has he ever worn, a fedora.

    As for the postcards, I’m not really in a position to know.

  10. K says:

    I’m pretty sure when I was a Girl Guide, if I’d asked the leaders they’d have been merely anti-sexuality of any kind. But of course we never mentioned it. I’m a bit disturbed that the Scouting movement feels the need for a stance on such things. Paedophilia, maybe, given scoutmasters’ reputations in Britain.

    I merely have to do my best to do my duty to God*, serve the Queen, help other people and obey the Guide Law. (Which involved things like “making good use of my time”.) Not such hard work as yours. Though I think it was assumed we’d be fairly clean.

    *That line became optional towards the end of my stint. Anad apparently, Guides now optionally love God instead of doing their duty. Standards are slipping!

  11. Allen says:

    Ah, what we would have done for some Girl Guidance back when I was a Boy Scout.

  12. Reno says:

    Just to be clear — the Boy Scouts are the homophobes; the Girl Scouts are a separate organization with no such bigotry issues.

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