Getting a flat tire stinks. But when you’re a mommy like me, getting a flat tire–or two, in my case–on your stroller really sucks.
In some ways, I shouldn’t be surprised. I am hard on my stroller, putting it through its paces week in and week out. It is baby and my primary mode of transportation; so, for more than a jog around the neighborhood a few times a week, it’s called into service for nearly every errand, from grocery shopping to the post office to the dog’s daily walk. I dare say that between the nanny and me, we probably put 20 miles a week on it, at least–and that’s excluding runs, which if I’m honest, I am not nearly consistent enough with to count in my weekly mileage.
And then there’s the terrain. It would seem that rolling over sidewalk wouldn’t be all that stressful on a stroller, but city strolling has little in common with a walk around a new neighborhood development. There’s a reason it’s called an urban jungle.
An average outing for me with the stroller involves negotiating stairs. I usually avoid bumping down our front stairs, if I possibly can, which are scary steep in heels and pretty much death defying with a stroller with a baby in it. So, I usually try to go out through the backyard, which has far fewer stairs but a number of other obstacles, including lifting the stroller over the toe-kick on our back gate and maneuvering it between the cars and over the gravel in our parking spots.
Offroading in the city
Then there’s the back alley, which is in itself an adventure because you never know what kind of rodent carcass or trash, broken glass, abandoned TV or mattress or other matter of debris you may encounter. Not only that, but the terrain is atrocious–half brick pavers, half pavement, it’s all pocked and pitted making for a seriously bumpy ride for baby.
Once out to the main street, it only gets marginally better. In my neighborhood, there’s all manner of sidewalk cracks, curbs, and increasingly construction.
When I lay it all out like that, it’s no wonder I had a tire blow out given all the bumping, thumping, and thudding along. But two in one week seemed a little much. The stroller gods certainly had it out for me.
But one of the problems with having a tire malfunction–other than it can put your stroller out of commission–is figuring out how to fix it. I so wish there was such a thing as AAA for strollers.
With the first tire problem, a slow leak in the front tire, I tried to pretty much ignore it for as long as I could. I would pump it up with the air compressor, but after about a day and a half, it would deflate. I toyed with using that spray Fix-a-Flat, but I was scared that I would ruin the tire and then be really screwed. Fortunately, the nanny passed a bike shop on one of her outings and 10 minutes later, the problem was fixed.
However, the second flat, occurring just a day or so after the first tire was
fixed, was a bit more traumatic. I noticed a weird sound coming from the stroller on the way to the gym one morning, but I thought it was it was the strap on my bag dragging on the ground. However, as I came out of the elevator at the gym, I took a look down and noticed that one of the back tires was looking rather pancake like.
Fortunately, there’s a Target in the same building as the gym, so post workout, I popped in there to buy a cheap bike pump to get me home. (Yes, I totally was the person using the pump before I bought it, but I was desperate.) However, the flat was so bad that I had to stop and pump up the tire three times before I got home and the trip is all of 10 blocks or so. So, back went the stroller to the bike shop.
But when I had called around to a few bike shops to find out of if they could fix my tire troubles, the answer I got was maybe. Most shops were confident that they could fix any tire-related problems, but anything more than that and I likely would’ve been out of luck. So, it got me thinking about what I would do if I had a bigger problem, like a wobble in the front wheel or a broken foot brake or something.
Where do mommies go for heavier duty body work on their strollers? If a bike shop can’t (or won’t) do it, what would option B be? I suppose you’d have to try and sort it out with the manufacturer. Just saying it makes me feel like I have a headache coming on. I imagine spending a gazillion dollars to ship the stroller back to the manufacturer only for it to take weeks to resolve the problem. (Where can you even get a box big enough to do that? My stroller box is long gone.)
At any rate, all this stroller drama just served to highlight two things for me. First, I’m glad that I have more than one stroller. I was able to use my umbrella stroller while the jogger was out of commission. It made carrying my groceries home a little more difficult because it has a much smaller basket, but it worked in a pinch.
Second, I’m glad that I didn’t spend a whole lot of money on any of my strollers. I mean, tires are one thing. They can be more or less easily remedied. But I can imagine how irritated I would be if my $400 (or more) stroller had any sort of problem that needed more specialized attention. At least with a value-priced one, the worst case scenario is just buying a brand new one. Not exactly ideal, but, hey, if I had to do that, I figure I still come out ahead in terms of dollars spent on strollers than if I had bought the expensive one in the first place. And with how hard this family is on its strollers, I’m not confident that any stroller is really up to the challenge over the long haul.