Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

5.28.2009

Bike Commuting: A Series of Unfortunate Events

This story begins three weeks ago, when a rim failure (which slashed my tube) on my commuter bike resulted in the need to lace a new rim on to my existing hub and spokes and, of course, install a new tube.

I got the new rim laced up and have been commuting on the bike for over a week now.  Of course, when I put the tire back on, I used the spare tube I had been carrying, making a mental note to buy a new spare tube, preferably one with a long-length valve stem next time, as the standard valves barely protrude from the rim enough to lock on a pump head.

Flash forward to this morning.  I'm halfway to work when the front tire goes soft. I pull over.  With no spare tube, it's going to have to be a patch job.  I've never had to look for a hole in a tube without the auditory element of running the tube past my ear, but with rush-hour traffic on the adjoining road, i had to do a visual inspection, which added several minutes to the repair. With the patched tube back in and the tire back on (and the wheel in the bike, since I cannot get my wheel between the brake calipers with a fully inflated tire) it was time to pump it up.  Did I say pump?

I didn't have a pump. I did have a CO2 cartridge however.  One cartridge, in my road bike kit, which I had dropped in my bag back when I had the blown rim and was commuting on the nice road bike.

Back to that short valve length.  I threaded the cartridge on to the air chuck and prepared to push it down on to the valve stem.  With a totally deflated tube, there wasn't much to push against, but I did my best.  The CO2 started flowing, the tire swelled, and i breathed a sigh of relief. Then with the tire barely inflated, the chuck slipped or the valve slipped, I lost my firm grip, and a frosty mix started to come out of the chuck around the valve stem.

That was it.  I was on the side of the road, with a repaired tire and all of 10 p.s.i. in it.  No pump, no spare cartridge.  Frantic phone calls home to Kate.  She came out with the car and the floor pump. I got a ride into the office and pumped up the tire, which is still holding air acceptably today.

Here are the lessons I learned:

1. Always carry a spare tube, even if you have a patch kit.  Patching a tire on the side of a busy road, in the rain with no way of listening for where the hole in the tube is is really challenging and takes much longer than simply installing a new tube.

2. Having only one CO2 cartridge is not much better than having  zero CO2 cartridges. If you blow the first attempt at inflating the tire, that's it. I'll probably carry three in the future if that's the only inflation method I'm counting on.

3. Valves that are barely long enough to get a pump head on to are not going to be your friend.  My choice to run 35c tires on deep-section rims means that I need to go out of my way to find large- volume, long-stem tubes and not just fudge it with normal-length valves like I did.

4. The puncture I had was minor, and a tougher tire or protective strip would have stopped it. I ordered up a couple of Slime strips this morning to rectify that.    

5. Flats are inevitable (but I've only had this one in the last 2.5 years), and a little preparation makes them a minor inconvenience.  A few holes in that preparation regime make flats a much bigger deal than they have to be.