Saturday, June 30, 2007

Get it all out now, please…

With my girls off at a friend’s house for a nice, long play date Friday, I decided to take the opportunity to get my miles in for the day (see #9 of the previous post). I had a nice 20-mile loop waiting for me, plenty of time to enjoy it and weather that was simply exquisite, especially for riding. I should have known it was too good to be true.

I don’t know what I hit. I went back to look for it, but it must have squirted out from the tire after I ran it over. I’m sure it was hard. It would have to be to take a bite out of my back rim like it did. It must also have been sharp, too, because it sliced a nice gash in the side of my tire and caused what can only be properly described as a “catastrophic flat”. A catastrophic flat is one that causes instant loss of pressure (otherwise known as "instaflat"), but which cannot be fixed on the road. This flat qualified not only because of the size of the holes, but the quantity of them, as well. There were 3 separate punctures--two “snake bite” holes from where the rim bit into the tube as it ran over the mystery object, and a nice ¾” gash from the mystery object itself. Coming on the heels of 2 separate trips to the bike shop during the past week, plus other repairs, this just seemed wholly unfair, but sitting there on the side of the road I was left to consider my options while appreciating the beautiful weather.

It is worth noting here that I did not have a spare tube on the bike at this moment. A catastrophic flat, therefore, usually means one of two things: I call for a ride or I walk. Well, as I sat there on the side of the road (enjoying said beautiful weather), I imagined myself on the road in New York with the same problem. It is certainly possible that the same thing could occur there (it has before, on other tours I’ve done). What would I do? Would I call for a ride? No. That would be admitting defeat.

I decided to see if I could actually fix the tatters of my inner tube and ride home. What the hell, I said. It’s a nice day, I said, and my children are being entertained. Plus, there was a nice mailbox there to lean against. I must have been in a good mental place. I’m not sure the situation warranted it, but I was actually enjoying the challenge of dealing with a normally impossible situation. Plus, did I say the weather was nice?

I got out my trusty patch kit and set to work. I proceeded slowly and carefully, the only way one can really patch a tire that has to hold 90psi for a dozen miles. I used all of the patches I had in my kit and the tube of rubber cement was toast by the end, some 45 minutes later. It took three tries to get it right, but the tire eventually held the air it needed. I put the rim back on the bike, adjusted things so that it would turn cleanly (I didn’t mention this before, but whatever I hit, in addition to shredding my tire, actually put the rim out of alignment enough that it rubbed against the frame) and made for home. I didn’t set any speed records, but the cell phone stayed in the pouch.

I picked the kids up and we headed to the bike shop yet again. A new tire and two tubes, please. $47? Charge it! I changed out the useless stuff for the new stuff while the kids played in the back yard, then spent 30 minutes realigning the wheel (it’s nice and straight now, thank you). Another 30 minutes to make some minor adjustments to the shifting mechanism (it was clicking in the high gears), and again, for the 4th time in two weeks, it was as good as new.

I’m going riding tomorrow to do some hill training. I’d like to think I’ve covered all the problems I’m likely to encounter on my trip. I’d like to think that, but I’ll pray to the cycling gods anyway before I head out. And I'll bring an extra tube.

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