For the last few days my son has been dragging around a Challenge GrifoXS 32mm tubi. It was slightly inflated and had been stretching on a rim waiting to be glued. Tonight I finally glued it up. Fortunately I also dug out a pair of Conti Stayer track tires that have been sitting in the basement for the last year (the track in Boulder doesn’t open for another few weeks and I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get down to the Springs, and I don’t really like the tires anyway), which is key because if I took away my bicycle-obsessed 2-year-old’s tire without replacing it with something else I’d be in serious trouble. In fact the original Grifo was to replace the $1100 front wheel of my wife’s that he had been playing with previously. 

None of that is actually the point of this post. It instead revolves around the act of gluing up a set of tires. If you are a crosser, there is no avoiding it (Law No. 2 of the Religion of Cyclocross According to Lance – If you’re not riding tubies, you’re not riding cross). It takes a good 45 minutes or so to do a pair, and there’s no suitable alternative (Law No. 3 of the Religion of Cyclocross According to Lance – Tubular tape is an act of hatred, hatred for yourself and for your precious equipment). You actually need to do it often if you aren’t super rich and able to have 10 sets of wheels all glued up with different tires so that you A bike and B bike are perfectly matched and your rims are the proper depth for the course and conditions you are riding. So I had to glue up my tires, and part way through I realized what was going on, I was getting into the Zen of what should reasonably be a tedious and somewhat irritating task. 

This probably wasn’t actually Zen at all, it just seemed like the kind of appreciation for a moment that westerners who don’t truly understand Zen like to call Zen. It was definitely very prop-driven: basement workshop with mediocre lighting, nice tire, a tub of Vittoria Mastik and an acid rush, a good glass of whiskey (cheers to ya Don Farris), and paradoxically enough Missa Solemnis – a Beethoven Mass. 

I got all the way through the rims (two coats because they had already been glued before) and the first coat on one tire (two coats because they are new) when this profound feeling of joy at the simple, yet exacting task that I was accomplishing overcame me. Nice.

I finished up and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of my gluing right up to the point where I had to center the tires on the rim. That always sucks, Zen or not. I probably advance my carpel tunnel syndrome a couple years every time I do it. But I came away with a set of wheels that I can ride this weekend, and another set of props that makes bicycle maintenance something that I really enjoy.

Note: Missa Solemnis is by no means the best, or only musical selection for something like gluing tires. I find any classical piece that involves a choir of people singing in a foreign language and sounding like a bunch of sinners at the foot of a god who is ready to smite them to be pretty much the ticket. 

And, as a final note: First snow today in Boulder. Too bad I wasn’t smart enough to have all the cross gear ready to take advantage of a good snow ride. It got up to about 50 today also, so the snow id gone and I can’t take advantage of it tomorrow (not that Grifos would even be the right tire to do it, shame on me).