Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flat again (and again)

A day after I flatted and repaired my tube (twice), I bike/bus commuted again, this time without incident, though I was careful not to ride too far. But a week later, with about 75 miles on the patched tube and after riding all the way to work, when I got to my bike for the ride home, my tire was flat again. This shouldn't have been a big problem with an REI bike department about a mile away from my office, so I inflated the tube and rode like heck to get there before I ran out of air again.

The store didn't have the right size tube for my road rocket: 700x25. They recommended a nearby bike shop. I pumped up the tire again and rode a couple miles to find it, but no dice -- their fairly imprecise directions were no help. So I resigned myself to a bus ride downtown, albeit from a little earlier on its route than usual, and parked myself on another bus bench just outside the Southcenter REI. The bus wasn't due for another 20 minutes so I took the rear tire off and slapped a third patch onto the grievously wounded tube. Then when the bus finally arrived, it already had two bikes on its rack, with the next bus not due for another half hour -- I got waved off. The driver shrugged -- there was nothing he could do. I was seriously out of luck and getting frustrated with the limitations of scheduled transit service. My latest patch seemed to be holding, so I started riding my route home, hoping the tube would hold out until the next bus stop. It did, so I took the gamble to the next stop a couple miles farther up the road, the Tukwila Park and Ride. I was actually only about 5 minutes behind the bus that waved me off, with 25 minutes to go until the next one. And my tube was holding at 3/4 pressure. So what the heck, I'm already in about as deep as I can get and with no guarantee that the next bus won't already have another full bike rack, I take a deep breath, mount up, and bike 19 more miles home. Fortunately without further incident.

I ended up riding about 50 miles that day, all the way to work and all the way back, plus all the farting around bike shops at Southcenter, none of which was actually helpful.

At home that weekend, I had an unusual hour to myself, and with my tire flat yet again, I pumped it up and rode it most of the way to the nearest bike shop. The tire went flat about four blocks away from the shop, and no amount of further pumping helped, so I walked it the rest of the way. They changed the tube and I bought a spare for my pack. Here's hoping I don't have to use it anytime soon. I've put about 100 more miles on it since then. If only it were as cheap an easy to change the tire on the old clunker car in my garage.

And, oh yeah, yesterday I got waved off again, at the International District Station in the bus tunnel. Two bikes
already on the rack meant I had to wait for a later bus. Luckily I knew my options, and a different bus with a more problematic -- but still doable -- route came by a couple minutes later, so not much was lost. I've spent way too much time waiting for buses this past month, and not nearly enough time actually riding them.


Mr_Grant said...

Hmmm, a lot of flats.

Do the tires have grooves along or across the centerline? Because glass WILL get caught in those. Salesmen will try to tell you a center groove improves traction in rain, but bikes don't go fast enough for it to matter. So use something slick down the middle and textured on the sides.

Also, road tires should be at least 120PSI. And it is safe to overinflate 10PSI higher than the stated rating. Higher PSI and overinflation help resist punctures.

Aus-car said...

My road tires are rated at 100 psi, and I usually inflate them to 90 psi. They are don't really have much texture, or anywhere that something could hide inside them. This flat was a pinch-flat, later with as many as three patches over it, indicating that the tires were underinflated in the first place, but to tell the truth when the first flat happened with them they were probably at about 50-70 psi.

I have to keep reminding myself tht if I squeeze the tires, any "give" at all means I need to add air.