On the Demoralization of a Flat Tire

If I’ve talked to you anytime in the last week or so, chances are high that I’ve complained to you about how many flats I’ve been getting.  Let me just fill in the gaps for the rest of you:  I’ve been getting so.  many.  flats.

The thing about a flat is that disappointing disconnect between expectation and outcome.  Because of one tiny little thing completely out of your control (a thorn, of all things, how symbolic says my literary mind), my vision of the ride that could have and should have been, gives way to something else entirely–hours of frustration.  People–it is hard to fix a flat tire.  You must remove the wheel from the bike, remove the tire from the rim (my father who has performed such an operation hundreds of times on various bikes has informed me that my tire is so tight that on my bike this is ridiculously difficult. almost impossible.) remove the tube from the tire, locate and remove the thorn, locate and patch the puncture and then reverse all of those steps until your bike is put back together.  When you’re out on a ride, there are about 7 things you need to accomplish this and if you forget any single one of them–SOL for you and you need to find a ride home or walk.  And when you do all of that and then get another flat on your very next ride–(inconceivable!!) it is so maddening.

And basically that happened to me. (17 miles up Hobble Creek Canyon in the rain)  And then it happened again (half a mile into my first 50 miler).  And then it happened to Tanner. (poor guy had to wait an hour before I noticed my phone had 18 missed calls)  And then to Tanner again (double whammy.  2 flats) And then another few where they were just flat before I even left on a ride.  After that I went to the bike shop, had them check both of my tubes & tires, bought new tires for Tanner, purchased more new tubes ($7.99 a pop is really adding up.  I really support buying local, but ouch), another patch kit, a rim strip and $20 tire liners–which is basically an extra strip of plastic you line your tire with to give it an extra layer of protection against thorns.  I was all geared up, ready to go, and certain there is no way I’m getting any more flats for a while!

And then I got another flat on my very next ride.  Oh the curses that went flying.  It was a bitter, terrible moment.

This guy right here was the one giving me all the trouble:


yadda yadda yadda and a lot of help from my dad and uncle later, and I think I’m cured.  We rode 70 miles on Friday without a problem (well, without a problem with our bikes.  our bodies on the other hand. . .)

but!  hey!  if you’re still reading after all of that long-windedness I really do have a purpose for recounting all of that terribleness.  I’m going to get pretty philosophical and metaphorical on you, but it’s pretty good in my head so hopefully that translates to words worth reading.

Think about the most unfair thing in your life.  The thing about all of these flats is that it seems so unfair.  I think people are generally willing to accept (in theory) that life is hard and often unfair.  There are going to be bumps, obstacles, trials, whatever you want to call them–things aren’t going to go our way sometimes.  But I think we are only willing to accept this to a certain point.  There is a scale in my head of how hard things should be and when that tips out of balance it makes me angry and frustrated.  Like, this thing should be this hard in this way because this is the average amount of hard that other people have to deal with and if it’s harder than that then it’s not fair.  Oh dear, that didn’t make sense, let me try again.  I’ve been thinking about so many different people in my life and the difficult things that they have to go through and it’s hard explaining myself without specifics or belittling others peoples big life problems by comparing them to my flat tires.  So I’ll just use my own example I guess and you make the analogy.  LOTOJA is a big hard thing I’m doing, and I expected it to be hard in certain ways–sacrificing and scheduling so much time for training rides.  Waking up early, having to find babysitters, giving up doing other things I want to do because I have to ride a lot. I knew (know)  that physically it’s going to push me to my limits.  I expect sore, sore legs.  Sore butt, sore back, stretches of I-really-don’t-think-I can-go-30-more-yards-let-alone-30-more-miles.  And I did expect a flat or 2 or 3 in there. My dad has ridden 1000 miles this summer without a single flat –says he gets about 3 or so a summer.)  But flat after flat and then even more, even after I had done everything that I could do and more than could be expected to fix and eliminate the problem–then I got mad.  “This is so unfair!” I whined.

Life should be an equation, right?  Like if you spend the same amount of time, effort, or money working towards the same thing that other people have done–you should get what they have gotten.  Parenting should be hard in ways A, B and C–because you loose sleep, because tantrums require patience, because you must sacrifice your own goals.  Parenting shouldn’t be hard in ways like colic, a 2 year old still not sleeping through the night, raising a child with a disability, having a child die.

So when things cross that line between hard and unfair–it’s demoralizing.  It’s disappointing and defeating.  It’s hard to power through it and keep giving more when you’re getting nothing back.  It feels as if we aren’t getting something that we deserve. Like everyone else is gliding by and you’re getting shafted. Like the universe is just being a big fat unreasonable jerk.

So to anyone out there suffering from something unfair, I don’t want to tell you to cheer up or be patient or that it will pass.  I want to give you one giant fist pump of solidarity (Lauren, totally just stole that phrase from you, sorry, couldn’t figure out a better way to say it) and tell you that’s so STUPID.  I hate that things are unfair.  I hope it gets worked out and that you get what’s yours.


7 thoughts on “On the Demoralization of a Flat Tire

  1. Caitlin says:

    A) You are AMAZING, I would die if I rode my bike for 50+ miles. Heck, 10 miles is rough!
    B) That was exactly what I needed to hear
    c) You are stupendous and I am glad we’re friends.

  2. Alison Alleman says:

    Such a bummer about the flat tires. Unfair, really. I’m frustrated FOR you. Up to 70 miles! Way to go! What will be your longest ride before Lotoja? Do you have your training schedule all mapped out? We need to talk soon. Love ya sis.

    • i wish I had a training schedule all mapped out but I can’t seem to find one anywhere! I’m just going by what dad tells me to do week by week. The longest ride we do before the race is about 130-140, which doesn’t seem long enough to be able to do 206, but that’s what it is. oh and thanks for reading my blog. . . pretty sure you and jessica are my only family members that do!

      • Giannina says:

        Andrew and I (Giannina) do as well, we just don’t make any comments. Sorry! We try to read yours, Alison’s, and Jessica’s 1-3 times a month. Except Jessica hasn’t posted anything for quite a while =(. We don’t get to see any of you guys as often as we would like so the blogs helps us to find out how you guys are doing. But the best part of all we LOVE seeing the picture of the kids, we love them so much and I get a kick out of it to see their cute pictures and to see how fast they are growing. Dana, we love you guys very much! I’m very happy and lucky to have all as a family :). Please post more pictures. Thank you!

      • well hi giannina, it’s nice to know you guys are secretly reading! I wish we saw you more too. We keep saying you need to start a blog for the same reason–for us to keep up on how you’re doing! though that sounds lame and I guess I should just call more often. My camera broke a few days ago so there may not be many pictures for a while, but hopefully I can get it fixed asap. Love you!

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