One of the great pleasures of life in the suburbs is that, if you’re a cyclist, everyone hates your guts. They’ll swear at you, make rude gestures at you, honk at you, and go out of their way to put your life at risk. They don’t clean up their streets, either, so it’s entirely possible to get your bicycle tire stabbed right through the stem with particularly large bolts that no one ever seems to throw into the streets in the city. On one of my latest rides, one of the goddamned things took out my tube.
Naturally, this necessitated a whole new tube. At least, that’s what I thought. I’m well aware of the existence of little kits full of patches which are supposed to cover up tube punctures. Now, the idea is a great one, but it’s spoiled by one thing: I have tried patches dozens of times, and they have never worked. Not once.
Aside from the fact that people in the Buffalo area are fucking neanderthal when it comes to bicycling, this is the most annoying fact of life for me about life as a cyclist. I know these patches work – I knew people whose tubes were punctured three or four times and basically held up with nothing but patches by the time they finally decided to replace the tubes. They don’t ever seem to work for me, though, which in Chicago was a real pain in the ass because if they had worked, I could have kept my tubes alive through numerous punctures for a $3 patch kit. As it happened, I had to run out and buy a tube every time. I bought three patch kits as a messenger, and none of them ever worked. When you consider that I was barely making rent half the time, that $3 I spent on those patch kits could have kept me fed for a month.
Yeah, you could say I learned. I learned to never trust a patch under any circumstances. Well, I finally tried a patch again after this puncture, and after doing everything to prep the puncture area and the patch short of massaging it and giving it a martini, I applied the patch, re-inflated the tire, and put it back onto the bicycle. Upon re-inflation, that patch appeared to hold up for the time, but I’m not stupid; I realized right of that it could have been a slow leak.
After two days, the tire still felt fairly inflated, so I filled it up all the way and went out for my inaugural patch ride. It went pretty smooth at first, and I managed to make it to the closest library. But by the time I got to the library, I started to suspect my tube had gotten a little bit softer. When I pressed it, though, it really didn’t feel much different. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend the next few days testing the tube; two days of bad weather followed that initial ride, and the following day required my presence at the production company I’m interning at. When I finally picked up my bicycle again on Saturday, I learned I wasn’t being paranoid after all. There had been a slow leak, and my tire had almost completely deflated.
At the very least, a full tube of air will get me over to the local bicycle store for a new tube. Even so, I’m pissed. I really thought I might have figured out how to work a patch this time, but no. Of course not. Patches just hate me for some reason. It’s not as if I never read or follow the directions, or that I under-applied or over-applied them. Maybe it’s like whistling or blowing up a balloon, where 90 percent of the people who use them have the trick figured out, but they never work for me. They never have.