You learn something new every day. In college, you learn many, many new things a day, and are then expected to keep them nice and orderly and at your disposal for papers, quizzes, and finals thrown at you from all sides.
But that is not the kind of learning that I did today. Today's lessons were the practical, learn-by-doing kinds of lessons that may hurt a little, but ultimately end up being the stuff that sticks with you for life. First lesson: if you plan on having a crisis in the middle of nowhere when slightly underprepared, make sure there are people around, or people you can call, or people that know where you are.
I was out on 9W today, about 7 miles from the GW Bridge, cruising along to my own tune. Life's little troubles, insecurities, and fears were being worked out in my mind, soaked up by the sunshine and the tingle of my quads as I pushed along. And then I started swerving, and I felt kinda rubbery. I slowed, slowed, slowed, and looked back to find a depressingly deflated back tire. That's about when the adrenaline set in. I love to put on a brave face and pretend that I can handle anything, but the simple fact of the matter is that I have never changed a tire on my own before, and definitely not a back tire.
First things first, I managed to get the tire off. Then, I spent about two minutes trying to get the tire loose. When I finally got the tube out, I started to put the new one in I learned my second lesson for the day: friends are good. This guy from NYU stopped and made sure that I was okay, then ended up staying and helping me (aka finishing the job for me) while we chatted about last week's Boston Race. Turns out he got pulled in the crit, too.
The final piece in the whole tire business is where I found my last lesson, NYU boy became my hero, and my hands got really dirty. Invariably, I couldn't get my only CO2 cartridge to fire. Therefore meaning I had no air in my tire and was basically up shit creek. EXCEPT-NYU guy happened to stick around and happened to have a pump, and happened to pump up my tire for me, leaving me feeling incredibly embarrassed/stupid, but with a fully inflated tire and a smile on my face. His name was Grant, and I learned that no matter what the people at the bike shop say, CO2 sucks and I really just need to invest in a pump, for my sanity if not for my security (lesson 3).
As Grant rode away, having fully fixed my dilemma, and I sat on the ground, cursing myself for not ever cleaning my chain as I put it back on my rear wheel, I was very glad for the (teeny tiny) amount of cleavage coming out of my sports bra. Unfortunately, while at stop lights on the way back (having turned around directly after refitting my rear wheel as to not get caught with my pants down, no spare tube, and a malfunctioning CO2 cartridge even farther from home), the catcalls and rude gestures that I endured made me regret my assets and wish I was more in-your-face-lesbian-tough (or maybe just male).
However, having been rejected before after being called "too intimidating," I guess there are just ups and downs to being a girl. And if I learn my day's lessons well enough, next time I might just be able to change my tire completely on my own, and if not, at least I'll have my own pump.
Meanwhile, in the absence of any other kind of anatomy to explore, I might as well start learning the intimate anatomy of my bicycle.