From the archives: Surprise Urban Cyclocross on My Commute

This story’s actually from February 1, 2013, but was locked in a social-media post where it would be hard to discover. Let’s bring it out into the light of day again!

Note that I live in New York City, and I do the bulk of my commuting on the Hudson River Greenway, or in other city parks that connect and run parallel to the Greenway.

Here’s a picture of the bike involved, as it looked on that day. It’s mocked up with the bags I was carrying, though as photographed the bags are empty

So, my usual commute bike nowadays is a tandem, with the back set up for a kid stoker, my 4-year-old daughter. [She’s now 7] Most days I’m responsible for preschool dropoff on my way into the office; tonight I was in charge of pickup too.

Late care ends at 6 pm, after which you’ll be fined. I usually aim to be there between 5:30 and 5:45. I especially like using the bike for this because I can predict my travel time really well, especially as compared to the subway.

I think you all see where this is going.

In the home stretch of the solo portion of my ride, I feel the bike lurch suddenly rightward. I stop; sure enough, the front tire has suddenly gone flat.

I have about 22 minutes remaining ’til I’m late, and 3/4ths of a mile left to go. Not enough time to change the tube… huh…

I break off at a jog, pushing the bike along. It’s a tandem, so it’s heavy. On the rear rack tonight, I’ve got a well stuffed mini pannier on one side and a laptop pannier, with heavy laptop inside, on the other. Did I mention the route was just about to climb 75 feet as I move laterally away from the Hudson? Or that my shortcut over muddy grass on the hillside would require clearing myself and bike over a 3-foot fence? Yeah…

I made it through the front door of the school with about 8 minutes to spare. I stashed the bike in a dead-endish hallway, retrieved the child from her classroom, then set about fixing the flat before the office staff had to leave.

I was glad to do the flat fix in well-lit indoor surroundings, to be honest. Wrapped that part up in 15 more minutes, including some basic show and tell for H’s benefit. Not bad.