Robot’s Useless Reviews – The Tube You Didn’t Bring

We should acknowledge first that the tube you did bring was useful. In fact, it fulfilled the exact purpose it was made for. It replaced the snake bitten tube you were riding on, so you could continue with little muss and, as it turns out, not quite enough fuss. You can’t get a lot more useful than that.

Unfortunately, you missed the piece of packing staple embedded in your sidewall, and so we’re not talking about the tube you did bring. We’re talking about the one you didn’t bring.

It’s still at home in its cardboard box, the factory rubber band still holding in that perfect, tight spiral, the faint dusting of powder still clinging lovingly to its unused surface. You thought about adding it to your cargo, but then you thought, quite reasonably, “Am I really going to flat twice?”

As it turns out, yes. Yes, you are. Only an unhinged doomsday prepper would bring two tubes, but that’s what you needed to do.

I’m not clear on whether there is some bit of game theory at work here, whether there is data to support the idea that bringing an extra, extra tube actually diminishes the chances you’ll get that second flat. I’d guess not. I’d also guess your partner is going to be annoyed when their cell phone rings and it’s you on the other end out the back of nowhere in need of a ride home.

I get it. No one likes to slow the train. One person gets a flat and then you have a whole troop of smelly, leotarded cyclists wearing Terminator shades standing around on the road’s shoulder making crappy jokes and readjusting their chamois (plural form). No one wants to be responsible for that. So you channeled your inner shop rat and fixed that flat in under three minutes, the only hiccup in your master plan being the failure to run your finger around the circumference of tire casing to check for pieces of packing staple.

When I have found myself living this particular moment, my mind’s eye traces the origin of that packing staple. A heavyset man unloads a pallet of boxes on a loading dock using industrial cutting implements and a devil-may-care approach to the appropriate OSHA guidelines. Plastic shrink wrapping and metal fragments disgorge themselves from the raised platform. The plastic blows away on the wind, catches in the branches of a nearby tree, there to flap and dangle for eternity. The metal bits embed themselves in the tires of delivery trucks as they rumble in and out of the lot, carrying that piece of packing staple off into the countryside, like mushroom spores in the feces of a mind-tripping squirrel.

These are the dreams you have time to weave while waiting for the aforementioned partner to gather their few necessary things and begrudgingly drive out to rescue you.

There is among you the brazen soul who will actually request that the put-upon partner bring the extra tube out to the remote location, so that more riding can be accomplished, but as part of this review I’m going to go ahead and tell you the truth. YOU’RE A GODDAMNED ANIMAL, NOT WORTHY OF LOVE!! But I respect you.

Because this is a useless review, I want to point out just how useless the tube you didn’t bring is. It is the most useless and therefore the most worthy of my attention. What makes this review so fun for me personally also, is how, simultaneously, that tube would have been really useful, the most useful, possibly the most usefulest, especially after you identified the metal bit that derailed the train and left you stranded with nary a Starbucks or Chuck E. Cheese in site.

Here’s the upside to all this. In my scenario, all those brightly colored, tightly clothed clowns you call your friends ride tubeless. Slowly, they’re are all going to ride away in reverse order of their real human empathy. The sociopaths leave first. Always. And you’ll have some alone time, and that’ll be ok. And then you’ll have some time with someone you love and who loves you, only slightly less than they did before.

Join the conversation
  1. southcarolinamtb says

    “…only slightly less, only slightly less than I used to, my love.” Ah, there’s a Morrisey verse for every occasion.
    Your description of the way the pack leaves according to social skills is hilarious. Thanks!

  2. khal spencer says

    I always bring two tubes. Ever since a never to be forgotten Castle to Hanauma Time Trial when I flatted not once but three times, since I decided to run stupid-light tires and the roads were full of junk. Plus, I probably missed that staple, too.

    First flat I fixed fairly rapidly with the one tube I was carrying. Then flatted my spare. A very nice racer slowed and flipped me a spare tube. Got a few miles down the road and had a third flat. Had to patch that one. I came in so late the race organizers almost asked me to pay for dinner.

    Never run stupid light tires in states without a bottle bill….

  3. DaveinME says

    This is awesome and hilarious!

  4. TominAlbany says

    I don’t know if you saw my comment on the last Paceline wherein I told a tale of an inadequate number of spare tubes occurring on my bike commute. And this occurring the morning after co-host Patria suggested having two tubes because stuff happens in the dark and the likelihood of hitting something goes way the hell up.

    Note: it wasn’t a packing staple. It was a terrible patching job by someone that can’t go nameless and still post this.

    So, get outta my head, Robot!!!!

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      Tom, are you sure we’re different people? I have not seen us both in the same room.

    2. TominAlbany says

      Well, at least I’d imagine you as the encouraging and self-deprecating voices in my head. So there’s that!

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