Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Bicycle Tire

A man walked down the block with his little girl, answering her many questions and letting her pick up little things off the street. He seemed to be working to encourage her curiosity.

“Daddy, what is that man doing over there?”

“I think that’s a lady,” he replied.

That “man” was I, struggling to work a new bicycle tire into the 1 1/8” rim. In old Levi’s, a softball shirt, my hair up in a twist and no makeup, I could see how I might look like a man to a three-year-old. Still, it was not the highlight of my day.

Said youngster ran up my driveway. “I want to see what he’s doing!” she chirped.

“Do you mind if she just takes a quick look?” the father asked unabashedly.

“Sure.” Okay, now the encouragement for curiosity had crossed the boundaries of my property line.

“What are you doing?” asked the girl.

“She’s fixing a bicycle,” answered the father, thanked me, and took her away.

This tire has been the bane of my beloved afternoon bicycle ride. For months, I have filled the tire with air before leaving for a quick ride with my two older daughters on the weekend. I knew I only had ten minutes before it would start to go flat.

A few weeks ago, my eight-year-old burned a hole in her tire, putting the brakes on too hard while flying down a hill. Since then, she has been borrowing her brother’s bike while he used his old, too-small bike.

After our friend installed the baby seat onto the back of my bicycle, he told us that my tire had “wet rot” and needed to be replaced. I knew I needed to go to a specialty store for the parts I needed, so still I put it off.

But the added weight of the baby made the problem even worse. Now I had only five minutes before the tell-tale weighty feeling and extreme bumpiness would let me know the air was not holding out.

So finally, yesterday morning, I walked into the Carl Hart Bicycle store. A $4,000+ bicycle hung in the entry-way.

“How can I help you?” asked the young clerk.

“I have some flat tires,” I replied simply.

“Did you bring the bicycles, or are you buying supplies to do it yourself?”

Wow, I never even thought I had that option!

“I’ll be doing it myself.”

He asked me the sizes I would be needing. For the 27-inch, I had a choice between a $20 or $40 tire. I thought of my rusty old Ross.

“I think I’ll go with the cheaper one.”

“Do you know what you’re doing?”

“I’ve changed a tire before but it’s been a long time…”([when I was about your age] I thought).

He gave me a few pointers and reminded me that if I had any trouble I could come back and have them change each tire, for $11 each.

I put the supplies in the garage, looking forward to getting the task done today during the baby’s nap time.

But she slept too late this morning, and nap time did not work out as planned. So I had a bicycle upside-down on the front porch, disassembled, when I had to fetch her from her crib. Dinner had to be put in the oven. My ten-year-old was in tears over a project that was due tomorrow.

Two hours later, with many interruptions, the tire was changed! I took it into the street for a test spin. Triumphant, I called the children for a bike ride.

Were the saints cheering me on? Surely they knew the frustrations that had made up my day, as well as the relief I now felt!

What a glorious thing! To ride around the block with all of my children, on smooth, 90-psi tires and no fear of losing air! That truly was worth all the trouble.

Now that I know what I’m doing, I will change my daughter’s tire tomorrow.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfector of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross,
despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Great story! And so well told. By the way, you are beautiful!