There are some stark realities for commuters that are rarely discussed. If you just ride a bike and don’t often have access to a car then you are generally going to do just fine. But then occasionally you have a night where you are, let’s say, too busy at work to do more than snack on mostly sweets, even though you brought delicious leftover soup. Then you meet a friend for dinner at a burger joint and eat a ton of greasy fries and a burger. Then you walk around chatting just long enough to realize that there’s trouble brewing in your belly bits.
So now let’s pretend (because this is all a hypothetical, purely imagined scenario that definitely did not happen to me last night) that you also noticed you have a flat rear tire just before your dinner. So now you’re downtown, miles from home, walking along with your bike and your friend, trying to look casual as your discomfort slowly mounts. Maybe your friend offers to let you use their restroom since it’s only a mile and a half from you at this point. And perhaps you say ok and make your way there. For argument’s sake let’s even agree that you make it there without incident.
You arrive and head directly into the bathroom, at which point you realize several things. First, the incredibly flimsy sliding door is not going to do much for staying closed on its own, much less keeping out the sound of a demon crawling out of your ass. Second, the walls of the bathroom do not go all the way to the ceiling. There’s a gap of several inches where they have clearly just built a basically permanent partition around the bathroom area when creating this particular apartment. Thirdly, there’s a bottle of Tums on the shelve near the toilet. What do you do with this sudden influx of information? Well I’ll tell you what you do. You make a valiant effort at trying to relax the muscles around your bladder without letting go of your sphincter proper. This results in a sad trickle of urine that might ease your suffering imperceptibly, but it’s hard to tell. Then you slam two Tums and resolve yourself to change that tube out in record time so that you can ride the remaining mile home to your own proper, safely defileable bathroom.
Now you have to actually fix that flat, which isn’t too hard since you have all the tools in your saddlebag. Your friend is there to keep you company and to (probably) smell the smells that have begun to eek out of your body. All the bending over involved in the process does seem to help, oddly enough, though that could also just be the Tums.
You say your awkward goodbyes, and now comes the fun part! You get to ride home, only about a mile, while doing the bizarre internal yoga necessary to keep your legs moving smoothly while also clenching your buttcheeks together firmly, all while hunched forward onto your handlebars. This is what separates the men from the…men who smell like literal shit. Climbing that last hill gets a little dicey, but you manage it, and it really is all downhill after that. You roll to a stop at your front door, rush inside, and do what needs to be done, grateful for your own willpower and intestinal fortitude. And impressive sphincter control.
And that is just a thing that happens from time to time when your only vehicle is a bicycle. Of course, other folks might deal with this same situation differently, but those folks don’t have the same childhood-based bathroom issues that you do (or that I do for that matter). But it happens. Does it suck? Yes, but not much more than regular old stomach distress sucks. And it’s usually manageable. But even though I know a lot of bike commuters I don’t recall ever hearing any of their similar stories. Which is why I felt that this purely fictional tale was one that needed to be told.