Regular readers will know that I’m not the most together cyclist. I could blame my kids and our busy life, but I wasn’t that well-0rganized before they showed up. A lot of times I’m stumbling out the door, pulling my gloves on, buckling my helmet and just hoping I can hang with whoever it is I’m riding with.
I am fortunate in that I don’t really get flats. I attribute it to being not very large and a decent bike handler, not god’s gift behind the bars, but nimble enough. As a result, my saddle bag carries the minimum emergency ration. There is a tube. There is a CO2 cartridge and an inflation head. There is a patch and a tube of glue (likely hard as a rock). And there is half of a multi-tool.
If I’m honest, the CO2 is more of a gesture or a fetish meant to ward off evil than an actual way to fix a flat. The first time I ever used CO2, I blew the whole cartridge into the still night air and walked home. If the ride I’m on is long and/or serious, I will bring a small hand pump, and endure it shifting around in one of my pockets for a few hours. I hate that though, so normally I gamble on my single cartridge and my handling skills and a little luck.
My road bike has a pump peg, so that just underlines how lazy I am about my kit. I have never bothered to find a pump to fit the frame. I wouldn’t like the way it looked anyway. It would probably rattle, so I’d only end up leaving it at home, too.
I have, once or twice, been queried by my regular riding friends who say things like, “You’re not thinking I’m going to give you a tube, are you?” or “Are you that guy that depends on other people to save him when he flats out in the sticks?” And I can honestly say that I am not. My supplies don’t inspire confidence, but I am far more likely to give a tube than take one. In fact, if tubes were karma, my account would be full. And should I ever fall short in flat-fix department, I would never begrudge a group to ride away, leaving me to my iPhone and my funny, cleated hiking shoes.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what’s in your saddle bag? Are you carrying the kitchen sink with you whenever you leave home? Or are you a minimalist? Do you flat enough that you are always working on anti-flat strategies, or are you like me, blasé and unconcerned, able to survive on the 2 cubic inches that the smallest saddle bags afford?