Saturday, September 18, 2010

Well, it finally happened . . .

. . . after 730 miles since March 27th Serenity got a flat.  Thankfully it was in the parking lot of my house.  So it's not like I had to walk far to get home.  Not like I was going to have to nurse an injured comrade along as we walked miles back to the barn.  Not even like I had to call AAA, though I don't know if it covers me when I'm on my bike...  :)

SO I took her upstairs and set about finding out what the problem was and deciding how to fix it.  Okay, yes, it was a given the tire was completely flat and the only thing to do is either repair or replace either the tire and tube, or just the tube.  I had a patch kit so that if it was something small, I'd be able to patch the tube and go from there, but I didn't have a pump which would only get me so far.  First thing to do was look for any obvious, easily visible signs of problems.  What I found I'd say more than covers that and then some.  A frakin staple, a fairly sizable one at that, stuck deep into the tire.  So as you can see on the right, we know exactly why the tire was flat now.  Thankfully, this kind of damage isn't something that requires I replace the tire, because those are fifty bucks a each the ones that came with the bike.  In this case, I can patch or replace the tube, and go from there.  Which brings us to the wisdom Asa Salas shared over on Team Estrogen about flat tires.  She wrote in part;

"You want to see a trick?" I asked. I took the wheel, and before he could hand me the levers, I zipped the tire off the rim.
"How did you do that?" he said.

The article, which is very well written, goes into how exactly to get a tire off without tools.  No levers, no fuss, muss or bother.  Honestly it's a long, long way from the old days.  Last time I had a flat was over 20 years ago, and I used to keep a bunch of tools with me just to be able to get the thing repaired.  Now of course back in those days the wheel bolted into the frame, and just to get it off required wrenches.  Now, since I bought a decent bike, the wheels come with a quick release to make it easy to get them off the bike.  What was more to the point with the fact that Asa explained how to get the tire off the wheels without the use of tire levers.  Now that is a blessing.  Especially given the frustration that levers used to represent.  Not just having to keep them in a pouch on the bike with others tools, patch kit, spare tube, frame pump and so forth, there's also the annoyance of fighting with the tire levers themselves.  

So while I was thrilled to have found Asa's article early on, I was in no real rush to find out.  Now however it seemed a perfect time.  I had a patch kit, and despite Asa's suggestion to replace the tube and patch the punctured one later, I figured I'd try to accelerate the process some and change it in place.  So, the air already out of the tire I took to following Asa's advice for taking the tire off and pulled the tube out to patch it.  So I carefully slide the tube out from under the tire leaving the staple in the tire so I'd have a good idea where the holes are.  I followed Asa's steps to gently get pull the tire off the rim and slide the tube out.  Cleaned the tube surface, but the vulcanizing glue on the tube and let it dry.  Applied the patch, removed the staple and set about putting it back together.  A good exercise in why Asa was right, and that her technique works flawlessly.

So when I got it pumped up, and the tire seated on the rim I let it sit for a while to see if the patch was holding.  And this is where I learned that Asa was right.  Swap out the tube and play with the patch later!  The tube wasn't holding air.  Which of course meant I had to start over, this time of course I had to pull the wheel and tire/tube assembly off the bike and replace the tube this time.  So once again I got to use Asa's trick, and this time removed the damaged tube and replaced it with a new one.  Put the tube and tire back on the rim, again following Asa's technique and inflated the tire.  Perfect!  Simply perfect!  Serenity and I are back on the trails and adding more miles toward my goal of reaching 1000 by the end of October.  As of this writing, I've got six weeks, and 235 miles to go.  Given that each of the last two months I turned over 200 each, I'm in good shape.  Well, I'm on track to meet or even exceed my goal, shape?  Well that's part of why I'm riding now isn't it? 

In any case following Asa's guidelines the right way, it took almost no time to get the tire off, the damaged tube out, the new tube in, pumped up and put back on the bike and locked down.  Like I said, prefect.  So next I'm going to get one of those wonderful little CO2 tire inflater and an under seat pouch to keep a spare tube and the inflater and I won't have to worry getting flats while out riding ever.  Peace of mind that is well worth the price of some extra gear eh?


Caroline said...

There is nothing to spoil your day more than a flat. I am a bit out of touch but some tyres ( UK sorry ) used to come with kevlar anti puncture layer, worth thinking about when replacement time comes round for extra peace of mind.

The little riding I have done this year has shown me how much I miss it and have to find a way to get it more into my life.

Congratulations, looks like your target is going to be broken and some.

Caroline xxx

Samantha said...

Oh no worries Luv, kelar is certainly in my future! Just like everything, it's a question of money. No worries about tyres, I've not be on this side of the pond that I've forgotten that. After all you're talking to a woman who still puts petrol in her car and spells colour and so many other words the right way.

Glad to hear you're getting out more often, thats wonderful! More power to you!

And yes, seems that my target is within reach. That makes me happy! 1000 miles (1600 km) by November first. Not bad at all.