Monday, September 7, 2009

The Saga of the Flats

Ok so as I mentioned the other day, had an issue with a flat. Thankfully not while I was riding, so I will recount the story as there is more to it.

Friday morning, nothing-special nice cool temps for the morning ride for my 9am class. After class bike across campus for my 10am class, day is nice and sunny around 70F (about 21-22C) park in the bike rack in front of the building, its a bit crowded as the university if sorely lacking in bike parking, about half the trees around any given building have bikes locked to them... Anyway get out from my 10am class and look at that, flat tire in the back, like completely airless. Of course I don’t know how it happened at the time, it does not look like somebody cut the tire, figured the heat might have finally blown it but the front was fine so was not sure.

Thankfully I have access to the theatre scene shop, which has all wonders of nice tools and air hookups, as well as water and buckets to find leaks. I didn’t have class until 1 so plenty of time. Take apart the bike, get the inner tube out, and inspect the tread, no visible damage; water test time! For those that don’t know, if you can't find a leak in a tire tube, car or bike, the time honored test is to fill it a bit with air and stick it in a bucket of water and look for the bubbles, its easy, its simple, its fast and it always works. I found the hole, right on the seam, as this tube was original to the bike (I believe) it did not surprise me, the bike is ~4 years old and now I am using it every day for long distance its getting a lot more wear; so understandable. I did check the tread just in case there was something, didn’t find anything. Trip down to the bike shop to get a new tube, saw a friend and got a ride back to campus. Install the new tube, tread back on, pump it up and good to go.

The next morning, I have a noon work call so am prepping the bike, check tires for air, new tube is holding nicely at 60psi, front is great at a little less then that. Wonderful bike ride in, saw 8 cyclists out including a couple kids and an older gentleman on a beautiful black single speed cruiser, seen him a lot actually. Get done with work, grab some food, do some things in the library and get out around 5:45 to go to my second work call at 6. Boom flat tire! And it’s the rear again! Bah! It was just freaking sitting there! Its too late to get to the bike shops, they are closed, I have work in 15, so walk it over to the show I am working, not a happy camper, lock it in the theatre and catch a ride home as there is no point trying to work on it when I can’t really do anything.

Sunday comes around, work call at 1 (yes I work on Sunday sometimes, it was a matinee of the performance) call my friend and he picks me up for 12 and I walk about a mile and a half to strip mall central to the only bike shop open on Sunday. There will be more on this part of Plattsburgh later; needless to say it’s a mess for anything, and downright depressing when you are walking. Talk with the guys, good guys actually, pick up 2 new tubes and a patch kit (which I needed anyway) and I am off. Show went longer then expected due to a light board power failure, and strike took until ~8. Scene shop to the rescue again. Wheel is off and tube out, I found the hole that is on a divet in the tube that matches up with the holes in the wheel frame where the spokes attach. Since the holes are sharp and if the tube is not seated right they can put a hole in the tube, which it looks like is what happened, I understood how it happened. To solve this I put down a line of electrical tape, which fits nicely in the groove on the wheel and then put everything back together, being careful on installation of the tube.

So far today everything is working nicely, checked tire pressure this morning, class and back around 11 miles total today so hopefully that does it.

I certainly learned a lesson in this and I am glad I had the experience; I also got 2 bungee ties out of it as well!! (yay reused tubes!)

Anybody else have freaky tire failure? Either on the road or sitting parked? What do you carry for patching if you cycle a lot? CO2 or hand pump? New tube? Patch kit?


  1. It sounds like you need better rim tape (or was none fitted at all ? That would guarantee punctures).

    I've found the self adhesive fabric rim tape to be the best to use. That made by velox is available most places and very good quality.

    Otherwise... I've also used electrical tape in the past, as well as duct tape cut to be the right width (which isn't bad at all). Anything in an emergency.

    Oh, and what do I carry ? It depends where I'm going. Just into town, perhaps nothing (I have very puncture resistant tyres on my town bike). Normally when going a bit further I have a hand pump and a repair kit, and a bit further again I start taking along tubes and tyres too.

  2. yeah there was no tape, never got any when I replaced my rear hub. The original hub did not have any either, I wonder if my front does...

    yeah the electrical worked nicely. I also got a heavier gauge tube so hopefully shouldn't have an issue.