I think I’ve had a very fortunate summer and fall. My last flat tire was on May 31st, during the Real Ale Ride. Since then, I’ve ridden lots of miles over some pretty rough patches, but the tires have held up beautifully.
Tonight, I had just completed a Mopac loop, and turned into the Veloway to knock off a few quick laps before heading home for supper. I crossed the gravel and dirt parking lot, jumped on the asphalt track, and pedaled easily, taking time to grab a swig from my water bottle.
When I reached the first curve, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. The rear wheel wobbled. It lost stability. !@%&*#! A flat.
I pulled over to the side and took off the wheel. Couldn’t find the tire levers! It had been so long since I poked around in my seat bag, I forgot that I had tucked them into a nifty little wallet that I keep my patch kit in. I got the tire off, and another rider came along.
“Got everything?” he asked.
“Yep,” I said. He nodded, and kept going.
Once I got the tube out of the tire, I inspected the inside of the tire for the culprit. There it was — a tiny sliver of sharp metal, about a quarter-inch long. I had to pull it out of the tread with my teeth.
“You okay?” asked a female rider as she passed.
“Yep, I can change this myself,” I replied. “Good,” she said, and pedaled off.
I always carry a spare tube. I got it into the tire, mounted both onto the wheel, and dug around for my CO2 cartridges.
WTF? Why am I carrying around a CO2 cartridge that’s already been used, and has a puncture?
Oh, there’s another good one in here. Let’s just stick it into the inflator and screw the top down…
Pop! Phwffffsssst! Oh no! I punctured the cartridge! Quick! Get it on the presta valve before…
I screwed down the top of the inflator, and stopped the leaking — but not before a cold white residue covered the cartridge, my fingers, and my gloves.
“!@%&*#!,” I shouted. I got the rest of the CO2 into the tire. There was enough to give the tire some shape, but not enough to make it rideable. I wasn’t far from the parking lot, so I started walking the bike back.
At the beginning of the path, a biker was taking it easy next to the water fountain. I leaned my bike against the bench nearby, and asked if he had a tire pump.
“No, but I have one of these things,” he said, holding up a CO2 cartridge. “I don’t know much about them. Can you use it?”
“You betcha,” I said (I’m originally from the Midwest). “Hey, it’s the threaded kind. That’s better.”
I screwed it onto the inflator, and fitted the end over the presta valve. Pulled the trigger. Whoosh! In about one second, the tire was inflated. I tested it with my fingers. It was firm to the touch. Let’s see…if I give it one more shot, it’ll probably inflate to the pressure I like…
“Aww,” said the guy.
I said something stronger.
I inspected the flat tire. Dummy! The tube had gotten caught between the tire and the rim. One of those things they teach you to check for when you first learn how to change a flat tire.
I got out my cell phone.
“Honey? I’m at the Veloway. Can you come pick me up?”