I thought I’d go for a short bike ride this morning, before getting around to anything productive. The back tire needed a little air. When I removed the cap from the valve and turned the little widget, the tire collapsed with a long held gasp of air and a spit of grease. Presta valves are a lot more sensitive than the old car-style valves. I prodded at the pin in the valve, it wasn’t clicking into place as smoothly as it should have, but didn’t seem too damaged. I reinflated the tire, closed the valve, and, after turning off the CD player, and leaned down the listen. The hissing sound was nearly inaudible.
There were a couple of summers when I was a bored kid, that I rode my blue hand-me-down ten-speed into town, or sometimes out to Sunnyside, every couple of days. I’d do the business of a friendless teenager, buy a Big Gulp or a Star Trek novel, or run errands for my mom or even for my little brother and sister. The country roads were scattered with puncture weeds and pointy gravel, and I would get flat tires all the time. I’d have to get off the bike and wheel it back home. Sometimes I just rode the rims, feeling a little guilty about it. I eventually started using thick puncture resistant inner tubes wrapped in a tire liner made from strips cut out of the flattened tubes.
I went to the bicycle shop and got a new tube. I tried on a pair of shoes at the hipster clothing store. Then I wandered down to Bauhaus and got a bottle of 7-Up. I went outside, and all the free seats were positioned in places where I’d need to ask the nearest person, “Is this seat being used?”. Before I’d finished choosing which person to bother, a young guy who’d been sitting in an isolated spot next to a parking meter hopped over with his spare chair and set it down beside me. He was wearing a woman’s halter-top. I thanked him and sat down. Shortly thereafter, a husky older guy walked over to a motorcycle that was parked at the meter. He started getting ready to leave, put on a pair of gloves and his helmet, retrieved another helmet from a compartment on the back, and climbed on board. He passed the spare helmet over to the guy in the halter top, who gleefully set it atop his head. The engine revved, they swung a right onto Pine, and disappeared. The guy on back pinched the chinstrap gingerly with two fingers to keep it from rubbing against his adam’s apple.