Getting to the root of the problem (takes me a long time).

DSC00881I was biking home from work yesterday afternoon when a piece of metal jumped into my path, bit my rear tire and then flounced away, clattering on the pavement. It left my tire looking sad and limp, but I must admit, I was rather excited. This was my first big chance to put my mini pump to use out on the road. But after removing the old tube and replacing it with a new one, I discovered with a sinking feeling that my “new tube” wasn’t new at all. It was as incapable of holding air as the tube I started with.

Bringing along tools to fix a flat tire  10 points
Knowing how to fix a flat tire              10 points
Bringing a flat tube                            -100 points

I lost the game. So I rolled my eyes at myself for having a spare tube with a puncture and pulled out my cellphone. It was time to be rescued. I hate being rescued. After calling for assistance, I walked my bike over to a nearby cemetery and we hung out together until my dad arrived.

On the drive home, my dad filled me in on all the latest TdF details. Hey, if I can’t ride my bike home at least I can have a conversation about biking on the way home, right? Then I was off to my youngest brother’s soccer game (which he won, yay) and I didn’t get back to my apartment until past my bedtime. So I threw a new tube on my rear tire, pumped it up and got my bike ready for my commute in the morning as fast as I could.

Waking up at 3:30 to find that my tire was suspiciously flat wasn’t a great way to start the day. I scoured the apartment for another tube, I had one somewhere…but I failed to find it. So I hijacked my sister’s bike instead.

I didn’t realized how accustomed I have become to having my feet clipped in. On my sister’s MTB with platform pedals, I had to remind myself to keep my shoes on the pedals. But the good little bike got me to work and back quite nicely.

Then I went down to the local bike shop to pick up new tubes for my bike. I had never stopped in before. The owner is a full-time teacher, his bike shop is something he opened on the side a couple years ago. He was very nice, but oddly he knew who I was.

“You’re the girl who bikes ten miles to work, right?”

Armed with two boxes of brand new tubes (just in case something happened to the first one, with my track record things weren’t looking good) I returned home determined to get my rear tire fixed once and for all. It took me a few minutes but I finally, finally, I found the root of the problem. My tire had a quarter-inch gash in it. I was in a time crunch, I was helping an elderly couple in the afternoon and I had only minutes to spare.

So I called the cyclist hotline.

“Dad, my tire has a gash in it, what do I do?”

Once he told me there wasn’t anything that I could do, I remembered my old set of tires. My dad told me to put the old front tire on until I can order a new one. So that is what I did and then I carefully made my way to the home of the elderly couple. Whew! Who know flat tires could be so much work.

There is a moral to this story.
Avoid hungry chunks of metal on the road.
Or maybe…
My dad needs a pay raise for his cyclist assistance hotline and taxi service.
Maybe it’s both.

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17 thoughts on “Getting to the root of the problem (takes me a long time).

  1. Errrgh! Flat tires are one of the major bummers of riding life. You’re just “lucky” you knew what had caused your flat. I say that because usually, when you get a flat, you have no idea what might have gotten stuck–and might *still* be stuck–in your tire. For future flats, don’t forget to inspect the inside of your tire to make sure there isn’t still a tiny wire or glass chip poking through your tire that will just flat any shiny, new tube you stick in there. I speak from experience, but you probably already knew to do this.

    I hate being rescued, too–especially since it is usually by my wife, who has to pack up our two kids in the car to come get me. She’s only had to do it a couple of times, but my goal is always to get there on my own.

    Glad you’re enjoying the road bike; it’s likely going to feel like a major downgrade to go back to the MTB when Winter rolls around again…

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    • Thank you for sharing your hard-earned advice, I am a beginner at all this bike repair stuff-reminders are a very good thing 🙂
      I am interested to see how I feel about winter biking after using a road bike all summer, I suppose I will find out in a few months! I am loving all this new found speed but deep, deep down I do miss when the world was covered in a layer of white…

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  2. Also handy to keep a patch kit in your bag. It’s bailed me out more than once. Just takes a little patience to find the puncture.

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      • I also picked up a patch kit when I was at the bike shop. I have never patched a tube all by myself…but now I have lots of tubes to practice on, haha! I will keep it with me on the road from now on, along with patience and spit 🙂

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      • It’s easy, the hardest part is finding the hole, which is where the spit comes in. Unless you’re home then it’s just running the inflated tube in the sink to see air bubbles. Probably your dad knows all about this or the bike shop guy.

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      • Thanks, FCM, I am going to try my hand at it this afternoon. At least one of my tubes has a hole that is easily visible…the thing is huge! When I bust tubes I do it good 🙂

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  3. Something eerily similar happened to me this weekend. I showed up for the club ride and my tire was a little soft. I had pumped it up before I left the house (because I have learned that lesson). The club members helped me, but they determined that my tube was punctured and helped me install a new one.
    During the ride, just before our final downhill, my back tire went flat. Thankfully a club member gave me his spare tube (I had installed mine already). I checked my wheel and there seems to be a nick in it that might cause flats.
    It was a rough and hot day, but I got through it. I got home and checked my original tube–it wasn’t punctured, I just hadn’t tightened the pinch. Go figure.

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  4. Don’t order those tires… go back and visit the bike shop. Support your local business that is there to help you. That being said, sometimes you can take a dollar bill and fold it and put it in the tire for a small gash to get you home. I have never ready had success doing that so i carry a folding tire in my handlebar bag. (I have needed a tire now twice on the road).

    Even car owners have to call for help, and tows are not cheap… Your Awesome.

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    • Ahh, I already ordered tires last night! But you bring up an excellent point. Living in a small town, the easiest way to get what I need is to order online. It has become my default. I need to shift my buying habits! Plus, I did promise the guy I would be back, so I should follow through with that 🙂

      That is smart to keep an extra tire with you, I doubt I would be able to patch a tire with a dollar bill either! Maybe a $50 bill would be more helpful 😉

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  5. Park sells a tire patch (different from a tube patch) that allegedly strengthen a tire wall–I have never used one, but maybe one of your readers can say whether they work or not. I think they are called sidewall repairer…..maybe.

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  6. Oh no, that’s terrible… there is nothing worse than changing a tube and realising that your new tube is as bad as the old one 😦

    (Note to self… start carrying a spare tube and not just the puncture repair outfit…)

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    • Yeah, spare tubes are so much faster when you are out on the road. Here is the weird thing though…I biked for a entire year and only had two punctures. In the six months that I have brought along a repair kit and spare tubes I have had a bazillion flats. So beware, haha!

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