A week and a half ago, I came down with a wicked cold (which I’m not yet recovered from). This is the second one I’ve gotten this year (the last one being right before Christmas). If anyone has any clues or tips how to prevent this, I’m all ears.
Anyway, after lying around for a long holiday weekend and then working through the week, but not running, I finally got the energy to go for a bike ride yesterday afternoon. It was a nice day – sunny but cool – and it was a nice ride up beyond the University of Lubumbashi. I was on a well-graded dirt road for quite awhile until I turned into the wind for the 3rd time and was coming to the entrance of a factory, so I decided to turn around. Something felt funny and looking down, I realized that my rear tire was completely flat. I got off the bike and pumped up the tire (with some help from a couple of small boys). But no sooner had I gotten on the bike than the tire was flat again. Uh oh.
By now several young men were ambling by and offering advice. There was really nothing to do but walk the bike somewhere – home? The nearest market? Somewhere where the tire could be patched. Because, despite the fact that I own two little patch kits, I had neglected to put them in my little underseat pack. Fortunately, though, I did have in my pack my all-purpose multi-tool. Two of the young men offered to walk me to the closest market (or that’s where I thought we were going). As it turned out, we went to the house of one of their brothers and they (Doris and David were their names) said they would fix the tire. I gave 1,000 francs (about $1.10) and David ran off to buy “solution” and some rubber.
It was quite a production, with one guy from the house coming out with a radio to entertain us and Doris applying the first patch, but not covering what turned out to be two holes in the tube and then having to redo the whole process outside a clinic a bit later (when the tire had gone flat again) with a rather obnoxious guy looking on and saying how he should have my bike.
One thing I learned from this was that you don’t have to remove the tire to fix the tube! Also, this multi-tool I have is a beautiful piece of work and has everything I need to do anything on the bike. And I’ve now put my little patches in my underseat pack. I have these pre-glued patched that I can just stick on, as well as the tube of (Indian) innertube solution that David bought and some pieces of rubber we didn’t need. So if anything happens again, I’m all set. And I had an adventure, had the chance to explore a neighborhood up behind the University where real people live and had some amusing conversations with these young men. Doris is studying political science (and wants to be a politician and improve his country), in the striped shirt. David is in the green (didn’t get a good picture of him) and is studying sociology. He was either a bit drunk or just generally a bit more obnoxious, but Doris kept him in line. (While they were walking me to the main road, after the fix, they were having a whole conversation in Swahili that was clear enough that I understood that David kept saying he should ride the bike and Doris kept telling him no. . .)
Kind of a fun Saturday afternoon, actually.
|The tube out, awaiting the arrival of rubber & solution to patch it|
|Doris, one of my heroes|
|David returns with supplies|
|The work in progress|