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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

Paddy had a Flatty

I seem to be having an preponderance of flats lately. Flats are never fun. They involve wrestling the bike upside down to pull the wheel off, getting your hands all greasy, praying that you have enough patches, and straining your fingers to pull the tire back onto the rim. It's always a delay and it's usually hot and muggy when you need to do it.

Three of the flats I had in the last couple of days were legitimate punctures from sharp stones, glass or small shards of metal but, a couple were from pinches caused by poor tire remounting on the rim. On the way to Annapolis I had a distinct thumping meaning I had not mounted the tire correctly on the rim. Mounting is easy to do with skinny road bike tires but these big fat gravel bike tires are harder to set. I stopped at the Bike Doctor and he showed me a technique. He deflated the tire and squirted dish soap all around the tire rim. When he pumped up the tire. The bead popped right into place perfectly on the rim.

When I arrived in Baltimore I got a flat about three blocks from my hotel so I decided to walk it in and fix it in the room. It was a shard of glass. After I fixed the hole I had trouble seating the tire so I used the new technique I just learned. I did not have any dish soap but I did have, from the shower, aloe based aromatic hemp lemon shampoo/ conditioner which worked great and left my tires smelling delightful and feeling clean and fresh like the early morning dew.

Arriving in Baltimore was a trip. My route led me through the stadium parking lots and, the Oriels were playing home to the Nationals. The streets were teeming with human activity and automomile traffic. I've arrived in the belly of the beast.

After I fixed my bike and got cleaned up, with boring shampoo, since my tires got the good shampoo, walked down to the Inner Harbor and it was jammin. There were musicians; jugglers; ice cream trucks; stunt cyclist doing wheelies through the middle of traffic; wannabe hipsters blasting their car stereos and gunning their engines to show off their latest expensive investment in super loud, obnoxios

exhaust pipes; and hundreds of people zooming all around, in and out through the pedestrians, on very fast electric stand up scooters, with headlights, like something from a futuristic sci fi movie.

I tooled around looking for some place to listen to music and get some food. There were not many options close to where I was so, I settled on a dark cozy little bar on Grant Street with a 2 story brick interior and a feeling of old world charm. There were framed black and white silhouette prints of famous entertainers from the 60's like Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Junior, and a larger black and white frontal of Jackie Gleason leaning over a pool table with a big stogie dangling off the side of his mouth. Above on the second story part of the wall was a large 10ft x 10ft movie screen with Frank Sinatra singing a concert at a huge theater. This went on for most of the time I was there and then it started over again in a loop.

I ordered my martini and settled in for some pasta. A women came in and set up a kareok machine. Little by little the place started filling up.

People in Baltimore get all decked out for a Friday evening on the town. They are wearing brautiful floral prints, multiple sparkly bracelets up and down their arms, big earrings and baubles and jewels in their branded hair. And those are just the guys! I would have to start a new blog to describe the women.

There were some great voices that evening. I think a lot of these are regulars and practice often. Most of it was soul, rythem and blues, a little motown and some hip hop. It was kinda surreal to see the movie of Frank Sinatra singing bigger than life right behind a guy singing hip hop with disco ball lighting overlay

I myself considered selecting a Rolling Stones song to sing but, stopped short when I realized that I probably didn't fit in with this audience wearing my beige striped 1998 JC Penny perma press collared dress shirt, which was now permanently wrinkled from being in my bicycle pack for two weeks.

Anyhow I had a great time. I met a musician and some really nice people at the bar and we had some good laughs.

About midnight, when I decided to turn in, the place was packed and people were raucous and having a good time listening and singing along with the music. When I walked out the door I turned to look behind me and realized, with some surprise and amusement that, other than the French bartender, I was the only white guy in the place.

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