I am not sure if there is anything more Father’s Dayish than fixing a kid’s bike tire. Yet that is exactly what I found myself doing on Father’s Day.
I don’t offer this up as some sentimental Hallmark movie moment of father-child bonding. I just thought it was stereotypically comical it was occurring on Father’s Day, I mentioned it to my wife, but also noted that mosquitoes and sweat were also big contributors to the day’s narrative, so let’s not go over the top with sentimentality.
What led me to the moment was my son’s desire to do things that seem like a great idea to teenagers. My son and our neighbor, who is about his age, like to get up at the crack of dawn and ride their bikes to the beach, which is just a few miles away. While I prefer logging what sleep I can and driving to the beach, I am not 16. And I would never throw a wet blanket on the freedom that a couple of teenagers feel when they can pedal down to the beach and waste away a summer day.
Alas, on their last journey to the beach, my son popped his bike tire and needed a new one. We headed over to the store to get a replacement. He drove, as he is getting his hours in with his learner’s permit. Once he gets his license, he may shelve the bike ride to the beach for a car, but for now, the bike’s the way to go.
As we neared the store, he asked me if I knew how to fix a bike tire. I snorted at the absurdity of this question. I am a dad. On Father’s Day. I can fix ANYTHING. And a flat bike tire? Pshaw. Child, please.
And then I started to think back to the last time I fixed a bike tire. When my kids were little, they somehow avoided flat tires to the best of my recollection. Plus, when you first start riding bikes, you are at the age where you are growing like a weed and moving on to a new bike quickly.
So I thought back to when I was a kid. So, yeah, it may have been 30 years since I changed out a bike tire.
But how hard can it be?
Answer: Actually, not that hard, but I hadn’t recalled it requiring a hammer, prybar and tin snips.
Once we got the replacement tube procured, we went to work on the bike. We flipped it upside down and took a wrench to the bolts. Once they were free, I noticed that we could not remove the tire as there was a little metal bracket securing it to the frame. I spent as much time as I could trying to determine the function of said bracket, but could not for the life of me find one.
Commence the prybar assault. After several minutes of pounding away at it, it was not free. But I had lodged it enough open that I could then fix some tin snips in there and clip it free, getting the tire free and, as an added bonus, creating a ridiculously sharp piece of jagged metal that protruded from the side.
In short order, we had the new tire installed and he was on the road taking it for a test drive. I am pleased that, despite my decades-long void of bike repair, I was able to get my son back in the saddle for his early morning beach trip. I guess you could say it was just like riding a bike.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at www.mikeslife.us.