Its shape is phallic. Its name is Sapphic. And it always gets my tires hard.
I pay tribute today to my Lezyne Tech Drive HP aluminum mini hand pump.
I bought my Lezyne about five years ago. At the time, I thought it was expensive, as far as hand pumps go. But it’s been worth every penny, and over the years it’s become something more than just a tool to me. I carry it with me on every ride, tucked snugly in my back pocket or stuffed into my gas-tank bag. I rarely have to use it, but I know that when the time comes, it will work. Mostly, though, I just like having it around.
Here’s a portrait of my Lezyne: It’s silver, though the sheen has worn off the exterior making it more of a brushed silver, covered in scuffs and nicks, dings and scratches. I’ve dropped it, kicked it, and run over it. It’s slim, a little thicker than a Cuban cigar. There’s a flexible hose that tucks slyly inside the body of the plunger part. And a chip missing on the black plastic end. It’s an elegant, understated accessory, which happens to also be a tool.
Somewhere in my garage, I have a box of old cycling gear that still kinda-sorta works, single pedals, patched up tubes, crappy bells, and in it are probably half a dozen mini hand pumps. They all work a bit, as in, they can, technically, inflate—up to a point. Pressure is the kicker with road-bike hand pumps. When I used to ride with one of those crap pumps in my pocket, I was never quite sure if it would actually work when I needed it. Changing a flat on the side of the road was a bit of an anxious adventure. Would the pump come through with enough pressure?
The problem with pumps, in general, both hand and floor, is the gradual deterioration of the valve attachments. I gather that these devices contain gaskets that lose their seal over time, and it seems a given that any pump will eventually quit sealing effectively. Half the air you’re pumping never makes it into the tube. (Usually it costs as much, if not more, to replace the gaskets than to buy a new pump.)
But not my Lezy. She has always come through for me. Like that time at the Cino Heroica, when I got five flats in one day on Montana’s flinty gravel; or that drizzly fall ride in Portland, when I had to fix multiple glass punctures on the side of the road in the rain; or that day on Mount Lemmon, when my rim tape let me down. Every time, Lezy delivered. Her gaskets are exquisite.
One day last summer, I found a brand new black Lezyne mini hand pump on the road not far from my house. It was pristine, still in its packaging. It must have just fallen out of a backpack or pannier, a precious and unexpected windfall, like finding a ruby or emerald lying on the sidewalk. It’s one of my best-ever road treasures.
But I didn’t need it. And I felt a loyalty to my silver pump. I never considered upgrading to the new one; it would have felt wrong. So the shiny new black one still sits in its package on a shelf in my house, waiting for someone to come along who is both worthy and open to that pump love which dare not speak its name.