29 Apr

Tire Part 1

Did you all get that yesterday’s post was Eileen and not Tim? I haven’t ever seen this juggling dad, unfortunately, but it sounds like a cool routine (in multiple senses of the word).

Yesterday, I got my first flat tire while riding somewhere out by Middleton. I was cruising along a pretty rough road when I heard a loud hiss. I looked down and saw my rear tire rapily shrinking, so I stopped, pulled the bike off the road into someone’s front yard, and got to work. Three or four other riders went by, asking if I needed any help. “No thanks,” I said, confidently.

Recently, I’ve fixed a slough of flats on Eileen’s mountain bike. Last fall, she got one immediately after I replaced a tube, so we took it in to Michael’s Bike Shop (which no longer exists, sadly). Michael himself instructed us on how to replace a tube without any tools. The tire irons often pinch tubes and may actually cause flats themselves; so you just do “this,” he said as he effortlessly pushed the tire back onto the rim, “and you can avoid pinching the tube.” Seemed simple enough. So this spring, when Eileen got another flat, I gave it the old tool-less college try.

I ended up swearing and getting out the tire irons.

Four days later, she had another flat. I prefer to blame the tires themselves, which we replaced thanks to Eileen’s dad, who happened to have a couple of spare mountain bike tires in his basement. But you never know.

In any case, what with the new tires, I now had another opportunity to try the tool-less tube replacement since I would now have to move the old tubes to the new tires. I looked it up online to get a little refresher and then went to work on the rear wheel first. It was humanly impossible to put the damn tire on without tools.

But when it came time for the front wheel, I tried it again and violin! It worked!

So. When my tire hissed yesterday on my ride, I was looking forward to the test. After all, I’d hate to get to the Ironman and get my first flat during the competition. This was all part of the preparation. I started in on the tire removal, coaching myself through the process; it came off relatively easily. Step one, check.

I felt inside the tire for any remaining shards of tube-popping badness. Step two, check.

I got out the CO2 cartridge and the new tube. Step three would be to fill the tube with a little air, so that step four, putting it all back on the rim, would be able to happen without the tube bunching up or twisting. So, I fiddled with the CO2 cartridge, screwed on the nozzle of the “inflation device” and fumbled with it until it started squirting air into my face. I tried pressing buttons that didn’t exist. Then I held my thumb over the nozzle in an attempt to just hold back the pressurized air. Finally, I stuck the device on the tire nozzle and got some air into the tube. I pulled it off the tube’s nozzle, dropped the thing because it was starting to get freezing cold, and watched as the rest of the frosty air leaked from it. Step three, crap.

Step four, which had previously been my biggest worry, went just fine. Check.

Step five (fill the tire with remaining air): see step three.

I put the wheel back on the bike, packed up the old tube and the empty CO2 cartridge, and stood there contemplating the fact that I had just replaced a flat tire with another flat tire. I made a mental note to bring two CO2 cartridges next time.