I'd been thinking about preventive maintenance. I detect snickering in the studio audience, since I'm mostly known for no maintenance at all, or maintenance only for catastrophic failures. But I realized I hadn't checked the tires on any of my bikes in a while, and when they get old, they are more prone to flats, and fixing flats of the road is not one of my favorite pastimes. So, I decided I should check them and proactively replace them if they looked dicey. Of course, that plan never got past the thinking stage.
So, I'm out on the road and I realize my tires are feeling squishy. Really should have pumped them up before setting out, I thought. Then they got really squishy, and I had to admit I had a flat. Fortunately, and very unusually, it was the front tire. Since it was in the slow leak rather than big bang category, I figured I'd just pump it up again and see how far that got me. As it turned out not very far at all, since the pump that I had been carrying on the bike lo these many years didn't seem to be able to actually inject air into the tire. I hadn't actually used it in a very long time (ever?) and I couldn't remember which position to twist the shaft to make the presta side spit out air. Seems no matter what position I chose, air would come out in various directions but never into the tire. I seem to recall having problems with it the last time I had a flat, but fortunately I had a companion with a working pump that time. Made a mental note to check the pump when I got home. Needless to say, that never happened. So, given the pump was useless, there was no point in even taking out the spare tube I had.
So, what to do? Another thing on the list of Things to Do was carry my cell phone with me. In this case it wouldn't have helped since Susan was in a Yoga class and non-interruptible. So, the only other solution was to ride on the rim. I've had years of practice doing this with my commuting bikes, but in that case the rims were pretty disposable and the distances were short. But this was a very nice rim, and I really didn't want to destroy it. As it turns out, I was under time pressure, since we were due to drive down to the Cape to visit friends, and riding on the rim seemed like the fastest way to get back. I was near the intersection of Barretts Mill and Strawberry Hill, so I figured the quickest way was to ride back into Concord and then Bedford (later confirmed by my map program). This had the advantage that the roads (Lowell, Rte 62, Route 4) were all in good shape, minimizing the possible rim destruction.
At first, I was alarmed by the loud noises emanating from the bike, but realized this was just the tire/tube squishing around the rim. After a while I got quite used to the rhythmic thump, thump, thump as the part of the tube with the valve stem contacted the road.
Always the engineer, I started wondering whether my trip mileage would be off, since now the effective wheel diameter was closer to that of the rim, and not a fully inflated tire. I decided that this would in fact give my a higher mileage reading, and decided that was OK, since I deserved it for a somewhat more difficult ride with only one inflated tire.
I realized there was a bike store in Concord, but didn't recall exactly where it was, and given the time pressure, didn't want to wait for a repair, so when I got there, I just blew by. Next possibility was stopping in Bedford center where Susan was doing yoga and wait for a ride. But I didn't recall where the yoga place was and I was getting quite adept at this rim riding thing, so I soldiered on home.
The tube and tire were of course trash, but the rim didn't fare too badly. Got to see about getting a pump that works ...