This week is Bike To Work Week, and I have decided to bike my commute four of the five days. The weather hasn’t been horrible, but I prefer a ride that is a little warmer and a little drier. Cool and windy Monday and Tuesday progressed to a warmer and rainy Wednesday as that big Low to the southeast finally gets moving, promising nicer days in the near future. Friday promises to be superb. I can’t ride on Friday.
So, rain has never stopped me before, and it was only a misty rain, so I headed out. I discovered that I forgot to put my headlight battery on the charger, but no worries, since it was still lighting up, and the morning would brighten up after a few miles. Ride, ride, ride, rain, rain, rain, until a mile from work, where I took a shard of metal in my rear tire. Not surprising, since I was approaching a former International Trucks manufacturing plant, and there are shards of all kinds of things strewn about for miles. I have a repair kit, spare tire, and a pump, so I just had to perform the repair, as I have in the past. A minor setback. The pump broke. So, I walk the last mile to work, and find that the locker room is closed for cleaning. I end up changing in the handicap stall in the bathroom, which doesn’t seem so big when you’re changing out of wet cycling clothes with nowhere to hang them.
I respect the Planet Bike company, which makes a variety of bicycle accessories and donates 25% of profits to bicycle advocacy causes. But I don’t like them today. Today, one of their products failed just when I needed it. Of course, what things fail when you don’t need them? A successful flat repair requires a few things: a patch kit or a spare tube, tire levers (if you can’t roll the tire off the rim by hand), and a pump. Can’t really go anywhere without air in the tire. Most of you are familiar with the “chuck” on a hand pump- it has a lever that, when flipped, depresses the valve and seals around the valve stem of the inner tube, thus facilitating the insertion of air. Without flipping the lever, the pump will just bypass the valve and apply air to the atmosphere, which has plenty of air already, unless you happen to live in Los Angeles or Denver.
The lever on my pump failed. I have not used this pump very much since I got it two or three years ago, and I am disappointed in Planet Bike for designing such a flimsy lever. As an engineer, I normally would try to see what I could do to repair the lever. In this case, I would drill a few holes and put a metal pin where the plastic pins failed. Unfortunately, I do not have the resources right now. Instead, I will act as an irate consumer and contact Planet Bike to see if they will do right by me. They have a reputation for excellent customer service, if not excellent pump head lever design, and I hope they will address my complaint satisfactorily. Stay tuned…