Sunday, October 11, 2015

Coffeeneuring #2, in hospital with a sick bike

A week ago, I came out of work to discover a flat front tire. Two broken tire pumps later, I caught a bus and then pushed the bike home. When I pulled the tire apart, the tube held air, so I remounted it, and successfully made the two-way trip on Thursday. I don't know why I couldn't find a leak, as I even water tested the inflated tube.

Saturday (today), I didn't get the early start I'd hoped for, but did ride the eight miles to my Toastmasters speech contest, and figured I'd get the coffee ride in afterward. I did, but not the way I expected. Upon coming out of the Federal Street library on the North Side, the front tire was totally flat. Before I left the house, I'd checked both tires. The front tire was soft, maybe 35#, last topped up 48 hours earlier. No worries; I pumped it to 80 and was on my way. Nothing on the ride in indicated a problem. Yet there it was, two hours later, flat as a pancake.

I quickly checked with a few others who were leaving the same meeting, to see if anyone had a pump. No go, and further no go at the library's lending desk. My hopes there were high, as I'd seen a library worker push a bike right into the back room on his way into work. But nope.

The secondary problem was that I couldn't ride to a coffee shop; I was limited to the few choices in the short Federal Street business district. One choice was the Crazy Mocha on the corner, but I did that last week. Most of the rest were take-out joints for pizza and barbecue ribs, and it wasn't clear they even had coffee or anything close, nor anyplace to sit.

My next best hope was to go up into Allegheny General Hospital, two blocks away. At the very least I knew I could get coffee and lunch in the cafeteria, so that's what I did. Locked the bike to a sturdy railing, then walked in like I owned the place. Even better, I got out of there for under $5. Just a cuppa & a biscotti.

Before leaving, I looked for a pump. I asked at the Directions desk, who referred me to Parking, who referred me to Security. All were helpful, but none came through.

If I learned anything in this exercise, it's that there are very few tire pumps that are publicly accessible in this part of town. More on that below.

Ultimately, I pushed the bike to the Cedar Ave & East North bus stop, where a 12 McKnight whisked me to Northway Mall quickly enough, allowing me to push it the mile-and-a-half-ish home.

Follow-up: One thing that may come of this is to put some tire pumps at various public libraries in and around the city. It seems so reasonable a thing to do: Bike to a library, show your library card, and borrow a good floor pump for a few minutes. At $50 apiece for a good pump, even $500 would get 10 pumps to libraries where there is not already a decent nearby bike shop. Like North Side.

I said I would kick in some seed money to get this idea started.


  1. A flat tire on the ride put me at a hospital. For coffee. And maybe a great idea might come out of the ordeal.

  2. This may be my first blog post whose first draft was penned entirely on an iPhone, in Notes. I then emailed it to myself. Most of the time, I sketch ideas on a scrap of paper then retype on a real keyboard. Never have I composed on a hunt-and-peck iPhone before.