Sunday, June 15, 2008

When the Fastest Way is the Longest Way

How long does it take to change a flat bicycle tire?

If you’re me, it takes 7 days.

“7 days!” You may think, “And with all the bicycling you do!”

My parents wisely taught me that “Haste Makes Waste,” a saying I always think of when I am hastily cleaning a counter and knock over a glass of water. Or when I try to water my hanging angel plant without taking it down, and it spills all over my dining room furniture.

But it can also apply to using shortcuts rather than following proper protocol when trying to fix things. Inevitably the shortcut will come to bite you and you will wind up wasting lots and lots of time and having to do it the long way in the end.

This is what happened in the unhappy case of my bicycle tire. In fact, this silly problem has caused me such distress that I have been unable to write for several days!

The back tire had been slowly losing air ever since I last changed it in the spring. Almost every time I wanted to ride, I had to put some more air in. Not wanting to spend the amount of time it had taken me to fix the tire in the spring, I tried every shortcut I could.

While in the auto parts store, I picked up a can of instant flat tire fix. You spray it into the tire and it instantly blows it up and takes care of the hole. I did this and it was very messy! It also did not last. ($5 wasted and a big mess of smelly white fuzz in my garage; happily I was wearing my glasses and did not get sprayed in the eyes.)

Then I picked up some bike “slime” that is also put into the tire. It finds the hole and blocks it up. This also did not last. (Another $5 wasted and green slime all over the tire and garage floor.)

DAY 1. I finally decided to go and fix the tire. Not wanting another flat, I thought I would try the tube that is pre-filled with green slime, so that in case of a puncture it would not go flat. I have a 27-inch tire and purchased a 26-inch tube because it was the largest size they carried. I stretched it to fit. Then I had to really struggle to get the tire to fit over the tube. This took so long that I had to leave the bicycle upside-down on the front porch overnight and leave it to the next day.

DAY 2. Two hours and two sore thumbs later, I put about 10 pounds of air into the tire before checking to make sure the edges were properly fit into the rim. I noticed that a small amount of tube was sticking out of the tire. I went to push it in. I was now working in the dark, so my face was very close to the tire.

BOOM! It was like a firecracker went off in my ear, on the left side. I screamed and ran into the house. I took some ibuprofen, afraid that I had burst my eardrum. Soon the pain started, interestingly in the right ear. Thankfully, the pain went away within two hours and no permanent damage was done.

DAY 3. The next day, I found a half-inch hole where the tube had burst. Another $6 down the drain, on top of much hard labor and all my pains.

DAYS 4 – 5. I tried to patch the hole, but the green slime kept coming out and would not let the patches adhere to the tube. I stuck some painters’ tape over it and it finally held some air. I kept trying to put air in it for two days.

DAY 6. Finally, I went to the store and got a good old-fashioned $3 tube, the right size this time, and had it on within an hour. But it was already too late to ride, so I had to leave the testing until the next day.

DAY 7. We are now able to ride again – 7 days later – and I am able to write again!

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:26-27

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