I decided, sometime before Christmas, that I wanted to start riding my bike again. Given my orthopedic issues, my options for injury-free movement are pretty narrow, but bicycling seemed like something I could do, and I already had a bike. The bike I have, however, I bought at least 14 years ago. And because I live in a place where EVERYTHING is prickly and trying to stab you, the first two times I ever took the bike out, I ended up with a flat tire. So we decided to replace our regular inner tubes with foam, solid ones, so that even if the desert did its worst, we’d still be able to get home.
I’ve used it on and off, but in recent years I’ve noticed that the tires were kind of mushy (the foam precludes increasing the pressure), and the tires hadn’t aged well over 14 years that included 14 Tucson summers outside in the heat. And when I decided to start riding it again, I realized it needed an entire overhaul: new inner tubes (the normal kind), new tires, and a serious bath, since it was covered in dust and the chain was all gunked up with oil and dust.
It’s not like I go into these DIY projects unawares. I read how-tos on the internet. I watch videos. I print instructions. I buy special tools to do it right. The directions seem straightforward and simple enough. And I think, “I can do this!”
And then about 3 1/2 minutes into the project, I learn (again) the first rule of DIY: No plan survives contact with the enemy. “Insert the tire lever,” the directions said. And then the tire just laughed at me. Even as the tire lever slipped and the spokes shaved little bits of knuckle off of every finger on my right hand, it laughed. The tire had been so cooked in the heat over the years that it was NOT budging. Not even a little.
So I got out the flathead screwdriver and tried that. And while it put a nice little hole in the whitewall, there was still no movement, and I could not, for the life of me, get the bead of the tire up and over the rim. At this point, I’m thinking I’m going to have to replace the rim, too, if I can’t get the tire off, and that’s not cool, because by the time I buy those, on top of what I’ve already spent for tires, tubes, tools, and tchotkes to pimp my ride, I could’ve bought the pretty new bike I really wanted at Target, before I decided instead to be all responsible and spruce up my existing bike, which I thought just needed some love. (That was before it decided to be a jerkturd.)