I remember when I was younger asking my Dad what ‘insurance’ was. When he started to explain, I got confused. Not because he was explaining it poorly, but because the idea seemed so totally foreign to a young boy who, at that stage in his life, felt he had absolutely no need for insurance of any kind. The concept of paying for something that you may never use was more than odd. You had to be stupid, I thought.
There’s all kinds of insurance out there, and then there’s the analogies that we use all the time playing on insurance as a concept. As you’re packing for a five day trip you slip in six pairs of underwear. That last pair is ‘insurance’ in case you sneeze a little too aggressively one morning (come on, it’s happened to all of you, I know it!). The spare wheel in your car is also a form of insurance. You lug that thing around for years, driving your gas costs up and taking up precious cargo space, and you may never even lift up the rear floor mat to gaze at its alarmingly puny appearance compared to your regular wheels. But you know you have it, and if you need it, you can have that wheel changed in minutes and you’re on your way.
Riding a bicycle does not involve carrying around a spare wheel. It would be cumbersome and even dangerous. You do need insurance though, and it comes in the form of a spare tube and a pump. Both can be cunningly carried in a variety of ways, even in the back pocket of your road jersey, but whatever method you select you don’t have to worry about them. You can have them on you at all times, and as is the nature of insurance, you can ride relaxed knowing that should a rascally piece of rogue glass slice your tire you’ve got it covered. You’ve got your insurance.
I always ride with insurance. 8,000 km last year, all of it carrying my insurance with me. I had two flats last year and both times I was back up and running in less than ten minutes. The beauty of insurance! Well, it’s only beautiful when you have it, and today I made a very amateur mistake. I rode to work without my insurance. Blame it on the sales announcement I had to make while eating breakfast, the stress of which undoubtedly resulted in me not performing my usual checklist. Whatever! I left without my pump and spare tube, and I realized it about half way to work. I found myself dodging the bits of glass and metal debris that litter the sides of the road after the snow melts and groaned as I saw, in my mind’s eye, the pump and tube sitting on the dining room table, just where I had left them earlier. “I’ll be fine”, I said to myself.
Well I got to work no problem. I then spent the next eight hours literally glued to the phone on conference call after conference call. All the while my motivation was not only the weekend that was fast approaching but also the 45 minute ride home that would allow me to burn off all that work related stress. It was going to be a good ride home. My heart sank, however, as I walked into the bike room in the basement of the campus. I spotted it immediately. One very flat rear tire. Bollocks!
I spent the next twenty minutes searching for a pump with a very helpful security guard. “We have one somewhere”, said he optimistically calling his colleagues on the walkie-talkie to see if they knew where it was. It wouldn’t have helped even if he had found it. When I studied the tire in more detail I saw it: a thin piece of metal, tiny in diameter, that was probably from some electrical cabling or some such, had pierced through the tire and into the tube. I needed more than just the pump.
Cursing my stupidity, I called home to ask for a rescue pick up. It’s not funny asking your wife to come all the way from the suburbs to downtown to pick you up during rush hour. I felt absolutely awful, knowing full well that it was going to be a tedious drive down, and then an equally tedious drive back again. And so it proved to be. So to Marie, I say both sorry and thank you in the same breath! Oh, and also lesson learned: always double check that you have your insurance with you.