Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pump It Up

It’s probably just that with the nice weather we’ve been having, folks are dragging their bikes out of the basement and getting on them for the first time this season, but even so, it’s striking how many cyclists you come across who are riding around with saggy tires.

You see them pedaling down the Burke-Gilman trail, their rims bouncing up and down ever so slightly, just a little divot or pothole away from a pinch flat or even worse, a bent rim. Or, there they are, pedaling through traffic downtown, their tires making that muffin-top connection to the pavement, a sure sign that they haven’t paid proper care to the feeding of their inner tubes.

No doubt lots of these riders think that the cushy feel of the road is how it’s supposed to be; and I’ll bet that even among those who’d like to be cruising with less rolling resistance, there’s a contingent who simply don’t have pumps and are too busy or lazy to drop by the bike shop for air.

But still.

Making sure that your tires are all pumped is pretty much the first toe in the water of bicycle maintenance. I remember my dad showing me how to do it with this old turquoise metal pump we had and even more, I recall the satisfaction it gave me to see my Schwinn’s whitewalls all nice and solid before I took to the road.

I realize, of course, that I sound like a crank here; after all, if somebody wants to ride around with insufficient air between their rims and the road, that’s their business. It’s not even like cyclists who fail to lube their chains and go clanking around for all to hear; in this case, the lack of proper maintenance is, at least, silent.

But I can’t help feeling just a tiny bit annoyed or maybe just sad; as long as there’s still air to be had, people should use it.


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