So I was cycling back from the papershop this morning, just thinking that really I ought to take more time to be grateful for things: it was a mild day, we’d had a glorious weekend, and here I was living in an area with roads so quiet that they are admired by people right across the internet when badumm … badumm… badum… I was alerted to the fact that not all was well with my back wheel. It was, in fact, flat. And not just gone-a-bit-soft flat, but making-horrible-noises flat in a way that suggested I wasn’t going to be riding on it anywhere without damaging the wheel until I’d at least managed to get some air in the tyre. With the pump I had not brought. Which was sitting at home alongside the mobile phone which I had also not brought. Because I was after all, only popping out for a paper, along our lovely quiet – nay, deserted – country roads. All five miles of them.
My route back from the papershop goes through two farm yards and past several cottages, all of which managed to appear completely deserted. At the farm where I had been rescued before, not a soul stirred – and besides, turning up twice in the same farm with a flat tyre looked more than a little incompetent. I might have asked for help if someone had been around, but there was no way I’d go knocking on anyone’s door. At the next farm, the only thing moving was a cat and while cats can ride bicycles, they’re not much cop at fixing flats. The trudge of shame continued, made only less marginally shameful by the fact that there was nobody to witness it but some sheep all of which stopped eating to watch me go by identical expressions on their faces: ‘seriously, woman, not even a pump? Not even your mobile? What kind of a cyclist do you call yourself?’
So there’s a lesson there, I suppose, apart from the obvious one about the difference between puncture-resistant and puncture-proof tyres: from certain angles, it’s very hard to tell the difference between counting your blessings, and tempting fate. Especially when it comes to that most vengeful of all furies, the puncture fairy.
And now I’ve got to find out just how hard it is to get a Schwalbe Marathon Plus on and off my wheel…