Monday, September 14, 2009

Fun with Bicycle Tires

When I think about it, I've had a very charmed couple of thousand miles on the CrossTrail. Yes, the rear wheel had to be trued (mostly because of the weight I force it to carry) a couple of times, and the spokes on the rear wheel were replaced, but those were good things.

When toting up the mileage on the bike since last December, it was easy to see why I've suffered three flats since Saturday.

Saturday morning, I woke up early. I had a little time before my Traffic Skills 101 class, so I decided to make a coffee run on the bike. Lo and behold, the rear tire was flat. I guess the night riding the night before took me over something sharp.

I pulled the tube, checked for a leak, and couldn't find one. So, I put the tire back on, filled it up, and went for my ride. Then, I went to the class (which I'll talk about in a future post).

When I got home, the tire was flat again. So, I pulled out a tube and went to fill it.

Ironically, we had talked about tire checks in class. Our instructor said that every year, at the MS 150 ride from Houston to Austin, someone invariably blew a tire while topping it off before the ride. He also said it sounded like a gunshot.

I've been around guns off and on throughout my life. The stain in my shorts verifies the instructor's claim. At least I was outside, and the ringing in my ears went away fairly quickly . . .

So, I figure that the tube was too small for the bike because I'd gotten the wrong size. I take the tube and the tire to Bike Barn to make sure I get the correct size. Eric, the sales guy, comments that the tread is awfully worn . . .

Turns out that the tube was the right size, but it was likely flawed. Bike Barn comped me another tube (which was really nice since tubes aren't warranted).


Then, the riding day of the Traffic Skills class gets postponed due to rain . . . which never arrived.

This morning, it takes a little effort to get vertical and get motivated to ride, but I do it. I have a great ride into work. New lights make me more visible to drivers and the road more visible to me.

The ride home is even better! Tailwinds all the way. I'm spinning in the highest gears ever on the ride home. It's fast, easy, and fun!

When I turn into my neighborhood, the bike feels like it's weaving beneath me. Must be the wind, right? After all, it's blowing against me now.

Nope. When I check tire pressure, it's down to 20 psi. So, I inflate first. When it gets to 60 psi, a clear hiss lets me know that I have a puncture of some kind.

That does it! Time to think about a new tire.

Bike Barn tells me my options are limited . . . until Maxx pulls down a set of Armadillos.

Ninety dollars later, I walk out with a new set of puncture-resistant tires. I'll be rolling a thinner tire; 38 c instead of 45 c.

Will I roll faster with less surface on the road? Will the new tires stay inflated for a couple of thousand miles?

It would be really sweet if they installed themselves . . .

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