I hate flat tires. Really, I hate them. I resent being on the side of the road or trail and having to pull my tire off to slip a new tube in. It angers and frustrates me. It’s a part of cycling, to be sure, but I think my impatience is a direct result of having run a tubeless set up (w/Stans) on my mountain bike for over 6 years now.

With that said, I haven’t tried any of the conversion kits for 700c wheels to free myself of the burdensome tube, so my commuter/cyclocross rig is still reliant on these thin rubber air condoms. It wasn’t until recently that it really got to me though…

During the span of about a week and a half I flatted on every single outing save one.

Needless to say I have since become fairly proficient at fixing flats tires.

But with every tube I replaced, with every stroke of air I pumped, something started to wear on me even more than fixing the flat itself – The lack of support I got from fellow riders.

Now should I get a flat tire in my car and I’m stopped by the side of the road, I fully expect you to blow by me at 100km/h nearly killing me in the process – That’s just the way drivers are… I guess I just thought cyclists were different. Kinder. Gentler. More helpful.

Perhaps not.

During each of these 5 rides I counted how many people rode past me, and I counted how many people asked if I needed a hand. Out of the 52 riders who rode by me only 8 asked me if I needed a hand… For the mathematically challenged, that’s a ratio of 13:2… Not odds I’d want to take to Vegas.

Now though I found this disappointing (though wildly better than if I was in my car), I mused as to what might be the cause. I came up with a few possible scenarios:

  1. Perhaps they just assumed I had everything I needed – I do after all, look the part of a competent cyclist (I’ve got you all fooled!)
  2. Perhaps they didn’t have the requisite materials to help me repair a flat tire
  3. Perhaps I looked intimidating and scary
  4. Perhaps I smelled
  5. Perhaps they didn’t care

Now, although I don’t expect everybody on two wheels to care that I got a flat tire, or to help me fix it, some of those excuses did concern me. Though scenarios 3 & 4 were possible, they didn’t seem that plausible – mainly because I’m a very approachable, excellent smelling man. This meant that either most people didn’t care, or weren’t prepared.

Really, should it be the case, it’s the unpreparedness that got me… Not only are you not willing, or able to help me out in a jam, but should you find yourself in a similar situation, you’ll be relying on me to help you out!

I’ve found mountain bikers to be generally much more supportive, but only out in the mountains when most everybody is prepared for anything – Within the city I would imagine it’s a different story. I guess all you delinquent commuters out there are just lucky I’m such a prepared and giving commuter ;-)

How about you? Are you prepared for a flat? A broken chain? Prepared to help out your fellow man? Or couldn’t care less?