Pop! I looked up stunned. The eyes of my friend Dwayne grew wide. We were pumping up my bike tire and it unexpectedly burst.
Just the day before I had checked the front tire of my road bike and it was flat. Maybe it’s just a slow leak, I thought.
After pumping it up and feeling its firmness I threw it into my SUV and started on the 6-hour drive to Portland. I had been planning this bike trip for the last few months. I knew these two guy friends from college and medical school and we were now in different corners of the country. We decided to explore a beautiful part of the U.S. none of us had ever been to before, the Oregon Coast.
Unfortunately, after picking up Dwayne and Nathan from the airport the front tire went flat yet again. I picked up a couple of spare tubes and already had an extra tube.
The morning after we were replacing the flat. I pumped the tire from 60, to 80 and then 100 PSI and stopped. That was what the guys at my local bike shop had recommended. But Dwayne, told me, You can go higher than that. Just trust me.
So I pushed down on the pump but the needle on the gauge wouldn’t budge.
I pushed down hard the second time. Still nothing.
Finally, I put all my body weight and strength into it.
A loud sound filled the air. I looked up at Dwayne stunned. His eyes were big. We inspected the tube and sure enough it had burst.
So I’m supposed to trust you, huh? I told Dwayne. That’s never happened to me before, he replied.
The Second Fail
So we replaced the tube a second time, this time with some trepidation. I pumped up the tire from 20, then 40, then 60 PSI. Dwayne was feeling the firmness of the tire and told me to stop. But there was no way I was going to go biking way below the recommended pressure amount. So I kept on pumping.
The tire had burst again. We had gone through 2 tires in 10 minutes. This was now threatening to derail our entire bike plans.
One Last Time
I had one last spare left.
Upon inspection of the flat we noticed that part of the tube was caught between the tire and the metal rim of the wheel. This could potentially explain why the tube popped below the maximum pressure. Still we weren’t sure. Could something actually be wrong with the pump?
After being extra careful, we began to pump up the tire again for the third time. I went from 20 to 40 then to 60 PSI. Dwayne felt the firmness and recommended that I stop. But there was no way I was going to be biking with half the pressure in my tires compared to my friends. I continued to pump and saw the gauge go up to 65 PSI. I kept on pumping then heard a sound.
I screamed. Dwayne screamed.
How could this happen a third time? I thought.
We inspected the tire. It was still firm. No evidence of a flat tire. We both breathed a sigh of relief.
That was it. The tire at sub par pressures would have to do for now. Having no more spares, my prayer was that the tire wouldn’t go flat during our trip.
I handed the pump to my friends. Understandably, they were apprehensive not wanting to repeat my misfortunes. Dwayne pumped his tires to 100 PSI and Nathan to 80 PSI, both putting less pressure into the tires than what they were used. Apparently, my experience had caused them unease about the pump I used.
We biked 120 miles on the coast of Oregon over 3 days. It was the most mileage any of us had done. Our legs were cooked. Our rewards were the other-worldy scenery of low tide beaches with jutting rocks combined with a thin fog.
At the end of the trip I was still bothered by not having pumped my tires to 100 PSI. Tires at optimal pressures prevent flat tires (ironically) and help you bike faster.
We were driving to get some ice cream in Portland at the famed Salt and Straw. It felt as if a curse was on my bike and it had to be broken. So I made a bet with Dwayne. Now that the bike trip was over, I would go ahead and pump up my front tire to 100 PSI. If it didn’t pop then Dwayne would buy me ice cream. However, if it did pop, then the purchase would be on me.
Before going into Salt and Straw, I pumped up the tire. It started at 60, then 80 PSI. I cringed with anticipation.
The pressure continued to rise to 90 then 95 PSI. No popping sound.
Then it seemed as if the gauge was stuck. I pushed down on pump and nothing. Then I put all my weight into it. Still nothing. Finally I gave it everything I got.
The gauge went from 95 to 105 PSI.
No popping sound. The tire remained intact.
The curse was broken. And I got my free ice cream.
As I reflect on this story I’m struck at how our beliefs about past experiences – whether right or wrong – shape future behavior.
If a patient has tried to lose weight several times and failed, they can begin to believe that achieving a healthy weight is impossible.
In my case, I began to believe that it was impossible to get my tires to a normal pressure. I even said there was a curse on me preventing me from getting the optimal tire pressure. This even affected my friends causing them to put less than optimal pressures into their tires.
The Good News in the Bible is that God wants to set us free. John 8:36 says, If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
What beliefs of the past do you need to be set free from?