Flats

I used to brag about my miles of flat free riding, but lately my good luck seems to be running out.

I think it started with last years Wilderness 101 where I pinch-flatted my rear tube on a fire road descent. I remember pushing the pace a bit as I could hear the guys I had passed near the top of the last climb rolling up behind me. I smacked into a big flat rock and thought I absorbed most of the impact but I was stopped a few feet later swearing at my horizontal dropout/trackends, disc brake and chain tug. I’ve had a few more pinch flats since then including a few front ones. I’ve been used to running bigger tires on my previous bikes(26″), but until recently there was little available for 29″ bigger than 2.1.

Last month, less than 2 miles into the neutral start of a 400 mile race I flatted, and again about 30 miles into it. Last year I managed the entire ride with no flats, and looking back the only flat I’ve gotten while commuting hundreds, if not thousand of miles, on those same tires was due to a chunk of frozen wood.

Yesterday I set out to repair a slow leak on the same bike. I pulled out my spare, installed it and soon realized it also had a slow leak. I patched both tubes, and installed the spare, putting the original tube back into my bag, as its short valve was not ideal for the tall profile of my rim. I made it about a block before I realized there was still a slow leak. I went back home and pulled the tube, finding the tiniest hole opposite the recently patched one, a wee snakebite. More vulcanizing fluid, 5 more minutes of waiting, install, pump, depart.

By now I was running quite late, but after coasting down a series of hills from my house to the river, I pulled over for another flat. I’m still not sure how this one happened, but a previous patch had blown open. Not off, as the patch was still stuck, but the orginal location of the puncture had blown out through the middle of the patch. I’ve never seen this one before. More glue, more waiting, lots of pumping to get to 65 psi, enough to get me to work.

A mile or so later I thought I dropped softly off a 6″ curb and soon was pulling the tube again, this time an obvious pinch flat. I gave up on the long valve tube, pulled the short valve spare from my bag, held my mini pump tightly to the valve and managed 75 psi.

I made it in without further incident.

This morning I wasn’t too surprised to find that I had only about 25 psi in my rear tire. I aired it up as hard as I dared and hoped for the best. I managed to get in without pulling out the mini-pump.

I was planning on posting this yesterday, but I was looking for a nice paragraph to wrap up. I couldn’t come up with anything, but on the ride in I came to the conclusion that flats do not make a good muse for fine prose. So, I’ll just wish you all miles of flat-free riding and I’ll go knock on some wood.

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