Monday, June 22, 2009


Earlier this month I bike-commuted the 22+ miles from my home in North Seattle to my office in Tukwila again. About 2/3 of the way there, I flatted. Doggone. I've only flatted once before on my road rocket, and that time was about 20 miles into a different 22+ mile commute, but it happened less than half a mile from the shop where I bought the bike, easy walking distance for them to take care of it for me.

This time I flatted miles from any similar services, near the First Ave S bridge. I had my pump, a patch kit, and tools, of course, but after getting the wheel and tire off, the pump didn't seem to be getting air into the tube. No problem, there was a bus stop nearby and it would surely take me closer to where I wanted to go. Unfortunately, beyond the route number there was no information at the bus stop describing where that bus actually went. Still no problem, as I had a cell phone and schedules for other bus lines with me, from which I got a rider service number to call.

But no good ... this bus didn't go in the right direction at all, and the service rep I spoke with told me my best option was to go 5 miles back to Spokane Street and transfer to a better bus there. OK, I walked my bike across the street to catch the recommended bus, and once there on a bench in the shade, I had another look at my tube. It'd be 20 minutes before the next bus came along, and I had nothing better to do. Being able to sit was a big help, and I quickly figured out that the pump was actually working -- the twin pinch-flat holes in the tube were big enough that as fast as I could pump air in, it came right back out again. I patched the holes and put everything back together, then fully inflated the tire. The bus finally comes by as I'm almost finished, but I think I have everything under control and wave the driver past. Then I figure out that the tube isn't holding pressure, but I have enough to be able to get me half a mile farther along, where there's a bus stop for a different line. After arriving I stop and check the tube, and it has gotten really low -- the patch is leaking. I sit down on another bus bench to take everything apart again -- this bus won't take me anywhere near where I want to go, either. Sure enough, one of the holes has found an outlet along a tube seam. A second patch overlapping the first did the trick, at least for the time being. I never did see the second bus. I hop on the bike and continue riding. For the first couple miles I stop every couple minutes to check the tube, and while it wouldn't hold full pressure, it held steady at about 3/4 pressure -- maybe 60 psi. I stopped checking so often, just one more time with about 3 miles to go and it held, so I biked myself the rest of the way to work. It took more than 3 hours, twice as long as usual. Next time I'm at the bike shop I'll have to get an extra tube for my pack.

The return trip was fine, though I didn't ride all the way home, just 3 miles to the bus stop, then on a King County Metro bus to downtown and then a #5 to Upper Fremont, then biked the rest of the way home without further incident.

At least not that day.


Mr_Grant said...
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Mr_Grant said...

I always carry TWO extra tubes! I'd rather do my patching in the comfort of my home.

Also, see this great new phone/web transit tool:

Aus-car said...

Nice link, Mr_Grant ... thanks!