Flat Tyre, Redux.

When I told people that my first post for Cycling in Christchurch was going to be about my never having had a flat they rolled their eyes, and warned me that ‘I’d had it now’. A flat was in my very near future, I was assured. Being a scientific type, I know how averages work, and dismissed that out of hand. However, the God of Flat Tyres doesn’t subscribe to simple statistics, and arriving home late Sunday I saw that the rear tyre on my commuting bike was flat as a pancake. Pumping it, it held a bit of pressure, but it was all gone by Monday morning.

Being a sucker for accessorising, I had bought a patch kit, floor pump, tire levers and a spare tube, so after work on Monday I started pottering. I popped the rear wheel off, getting grubby from the chain, and tyre levers pinged around the yard as I unsuccessfully tried to hook them against spokes. Long presta valves can be irritating to remove from the rim, until you work out you can take them out last. I worked slowly, outside as the sun set, and my flatmates prepared tea.

I slipped the slippy new tube in, reseated the tire, popped on my floor pump, pump, pump pump, and ‘POUM’. Fsst. Apparently if you don’t slightly inflate the new tube as you insert it, its easy to catch the tire against the rim, and burst it as you inflate. I took the wheel off (and found you didn’t have to disengage the chain), and slid the now defunct ‘new’ tube out.

Feeling Flat?

While I was putting the new tube in, I had wondered whether I should patch the old tube or consign it to my box of ‘useful stuff that could be useful if I find a use for it’, but now, as the sun finally set (I was working outside by the light of the wash house) I felt, that if I wanted to cycle to work the next day, I was compelled to repair it.

Remembering the trick of finding a small leak by using a sink full of water, and being handy to the wash house I filled it with cold water, and there was the leak: bubbling gently like flat tonic water, or an artisinally brewed ale. Thoughts had been turning booze-wards for a while, so it wasn’t surprising that’s the simile that presented itself.

I used my patch kit (the kid at the shop I bought it from told me to leave the glue for a bit, so I did) and pried out a patch, stuck it on the tube, and went in for a cup of tea.

I was better at getting the tyre on this time, in the dark, and as the tube was still a little inflated, it was easier to get into the rim. I got the odd little spacers around the right way as I tightened the the axle (maybe quick release isn’t so bad after all), and it started to pump up really well.

‘Poufffffffffffssssst.’ The dial on my floor standing pump dropped to zero. Eyebrows raised, I decided that in order for sanity to prevail, it was time for dinner, and then the events of the evening I had hoped to cycle to.

So, at the end of play on the first day, Innertubes 2, Antlion Nil.

Day Two. After a visit to my Local Bike Shop, a few youtube videos and visiting Sheldon Brown  I prepared for another go. This time it was smooth and successful, the tyre went on fine, and a test ride to the local chippie resulted in dinner – a reward for a job adequately done.

Other than a demonstration of divine punishment for hubris, the lesson of this episode is worth remembering – you only know the solution to a problem after you’ve solved it. A new skill always takes repeating to get down pat, and through replacing a bike inner tube is not the most difficult or complicated thing, it takes a few tries to get it right. And that’s just fine. On the first night I was running out of patience and light, and though everything was going wrong, I trusted that it would work out the next day, which it did. Skills are like that.

Photo Credit: bob august via Compfight cc

5 thoughts on “Flat Tyre, Redux.”

    1. Yes my first thought was offending object/s still present rather than pinched tube.
      I jinxed myself too and picked up a neat little wedge shaped sheet metal off cut.

  1. If it makes you feel any better anlion, it took me years (probably 100+ punctures) to work out what you worked out in a couple of days.

  2. Alastair, it does make me feel better!

    I did have a good look around the tyre, thinking a bit of glass or something was the problem. I even marked where the valve was on the tyre so I could compare the puncture on the tube to the tyre, but I couldn’t see anything.

    I thought I had it sussed, and then it punctured the third tube, and at that point I threw my hands in the air and took it to the bike shop around the corner. I’ll pick it up tonight and see if they can tell me what was going on.

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