The Angel on the Road

I am fortunate to be able to ride my bicycle to work when the weather allows for it. At about five miles each way, I get in a cardio workout while saving gas, plus the enjoyment of the outside. I can’t do it every day even if the weather is nice as my schedule does not always allow for it, but I do ride when I can.

IMG_7557This morning I planned to expand my ride to swing by the gym for a short weights workout. For me, it was more about testing the feasibility of the idea than anything else. This increased my mileage to work by only about three miles. It was a beautiful, clear morning, ride temperature about 60 degrees, and light traffic as I planned the journey before rush hour. What could go wrong?

I need to step back to about three weeks ago when I was prepping my road bike for the first ride of the season. I had foolishly left it standing on its tires in the garage instead of putting it up for the winter in the basement on its rack. When I wheeled it away from its parking spot near a stepladder, I discovered the front tire was flat. No problem, as I’ve changed tires (well, tubes) before.

The last time was several years ago.

I began by unhooking the front brake cable and flipping the quick release. Except the quick release did not live up to its name. Despite prodding from pliers, I could not move the release handle. Whatever. My bike shop is a mile from my office. I’d take the bike there on the way to work and get it tuned up for the year. So far, so good.

Except I kept meaning to practice how to change a tire. For several years I promised myself to do so, yet never did. The time caught up with me, of course, on a busy highway on the way to the gym with a front flat. I wrestled with the thing for 45 minutes, finally turning to a YouTube video to figure out what I was doing wrong (oh, inflate the tube a bit, put in tire, mount tire on rim, not my method which I’m not even sure what it was).

I was about 95% done when an SUV pulled over and a woman about my age came over to render assistance. She was a cyclist as well, and in short order we finished the job. I thanked her, calling her my angel. In reality I was really a few minutes away from finishing myself but I appreciated her being there to provide assistance and assurance I was doing the job correctly.

What does this have to do with writing?  Well, yesterday I tweeted about the necessity for writers to strive for excellence in the trade. I’ve seen writer’s tweets that contained embarrassing errors – not typos, minor misspellings, or fat-finger mistakes, but writing “to” instead of “too” or “advise” instead of “advice.” Just because it’s Twitter doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for excellence on that platform as well.

I did not achieve excellence in my cycling preparation. A lesson learned. Maybe before I hit the road again I’ll practice what I preach in other aspects of my life.

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