Saturday, January 17, 2015

In Which Mercy Needs a Hand Pump

My shirt, post paint event. I like the duct tape name tags that Habitat for Humanity used.

Well, universe, what message were you trying to send me?

It was nice today—cloudy, but warmer. I rode Francis down to a Habitat for Humanity build in Cedar Rapids, part of a “Habitat Saturdays” program that President Laurie Hamen has started at Mount Mercy University.

Getting there was a bit of a challenge because Google Maps apparently thinks bikes can go the wrong way on a one way (well, technically they can, and I did, because after fruitlessly riding west to try to find another bridge, I ended up using the Third Avenue sidewalk).

And I’m not a morning person on Saturday, so I arrived around noon.

Painting the house was fun. It’s one chore that is great to do in a house under construction, and it’s easy for a person of few tool skills like me. Plus, one minor advantage I have is being able to use a brush in the corner between ceiling and wall without a ladder. Height has its privileges. (I am not extraordinarily tall—just slightly above average. I’m 6-feet even. I think the ceilings were maybe 7 ½ or 8 feet, so a 6-foot tall person can touch a paintbrush to that ceiling without standing on tiptoe).

Anyway, I expected to work at the house until about 4, but by 2, with the help of many of MMU’s volleyball players, we were done. So I thought maybe an adventure, a ride on the Cedar River Trail south towards Ely, was in order. Maybe I would finally see my eagles?

No. What would happen instead is I would cross the lion’s bridge and then notice my front tyre looked “wrong.” As in, practically out of air. (I prefer the British spelling of tyre on this blog, by the way.)

Well, son of a gun. I've been carrying a frame pump for years, but have not used it before. I also have a spare tube, although I’m not sure where I put the little plastic tools to pry off a tyre. Now, on Francis, I can actually take a tyre off with bare hands, but I didn't really want to take the 20 minutes to actually change the tube when I was not sure how well my pump would work. So instead, I just decided to inflate the tyre and hope, using the frame pump.

OK, universe, maybe I thought you were being all perverse about my karma—sending me a flat tyre was not nice—but, like a happy motorist who discovers a decade later that there inexplicably is air in the spare, I found out the frame pump bling on my bike works better than I expected.

Not great, mind you, but OK. It took about 50 pumps to make the tyre comfortably ready to ride. And after three or four miles, by Cedar Lake this time (I wisely decided I had to immediately head home and not continue my journey), I had to pump up again. And again a third time at bit further north on the trail.

So, I had to pump my tyre three times—150 vigorous pumps with the frame pump. But I made it home on bike.

I’ll have to change that tube before riding again, but at home I’ll be able to inflate it with a nice pump. Still, thank you frame pump for proving that you’re actually functional. And universe? In the words of Ricky Ricardo, you've got some splaining to do …

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