My off season started in earnest on Tuesday, so I didn’t ride on Wednesday, Thursday, or even Friday. On Saturday I went down with some L.A. riders to San Diego, where they got a taste of what they call “fun” in North County.

I rode my bike to a few coffee shops but that was it, and in preparation for the San Diego trip I took off my cameras and lights and removed my tool box thingy that fits in the rear water bottle cage. I set it on the top of the cheap Ikea storage thing next to the bed, where I keep my bicycle tool.

On Sunday night, the last day of my off season, I began reassembling my bike for the Holiday Ride 18-minute beatdown. After bolting on all the cameras and strapping on the lights and filling up the water bottle I went to put the tool kit thingy in the bottle cage, but it was gone.

My apartment is pretty small and I don’t own much stuff so it was easy to search it from top to bottom. Nothing. We couldn’t even blame it on the grandbaby because it was too high for him to reach and too big to hold. We tried anyway. Nothing.

I did the Holiday Ride certain that I would have a flat because even though it’s been a year since my last puncture, we all know that the one time a flat is guaranteed is the time you don’t have a spare. Luckily, I didn’t flat, but Special Ops did. He blew out his entire tire. He’s a good friend and we had ridden out together, so I abandoned him immediately.

I felt a little guilty about it until EA Sports, Inc. helped me out. “Do the math, Wanky. Former Special Ops. Flats bicycle in city of 10 million people. Bike shop five minutes away. Has phone. Has money. Knows the natives and even speaks their dialect. I think he’s gonna survive.”

After the ride I tore up the apartment some more but no toolkit thingy. So I made an inventory of the important stuff and started thinking about replacing it.

  1. Tube with a stem that is too short for the rim.
  2. Multi-tool which I don’t know how to use but maybe someone in need someday will.
  3. Old CO2 inflation head that doesn’t work.
  4. Empty CO2 cartridge.
  5. Flimsy plastic tire lever.
  6. Boot.
  7. 10% discount coffee card at Peet’s.

Obviously the only thing that mattered was the coffee card.

The first bike shop I went to was closed. Then I went to Sprocket Cycles on PCH, which is owned by Paul Che. Paul has built a thriving business out of nothing in what has to be the world’s toughest market, the local bike shop.

They were open and fully staffed with three people. In a matter of minutes they had loaded me up with everything I needed, including a fancy pair of screw-in handlebar plugs to replace the ones that kept falling out.

Was it more expensive than if I’d bought it all on the Internet? I don’t know and don’t care. What I know is that they were there with great service and good products at a time when they were needed. Keep that in mind the next time you buy online. You may (or may not) save a couple of bucks, but Mr. Internet won’t be there on Labor Day to make sure you’re back on the road by Tuesday.

sprocket_stuff

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