Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Snake Bite!

I wasn't really bitten by a snake. Read on.

This evening, I took the Schwinn, in fixie mode, on the Keystone for a short ride. I'm not able to commute to work by bike this week, so I'm trying to make sure I get some rides in. Right after getting on the trail, I noticed poor handling and looked down for a flat.

Sure enough, the rear 25mm tire was all squishy. I stopped to check, and dang it if the tire had no air in it.

I turned the bike over and pulled out my shiny Ace Hardware 15mm wrench and pulled the rear wheel off. I used a lever to pop out the bead, but was able then to get the tire and tube off by hand.

I had an extra tube, but had never used a glueless patch kit and wanted to give it a try. The weather was nice, and I had plenty of light left, so why not? I used my mini pump (also never used) to connect up to the Presta valve, gave it some air, and found not one, but two tiny holes next to each other.

Snake bike! I guess this is a pinch flat.

I had a nasty nail puncture last year on my hybrid, but the pinch flat was new. I am not sure how I got it, but I do know there's a bad gap on a bridge joint near where I get on the trail. I'm not used to hopping and popping obstacles in fixie (where I can't brace on the pedals), so maybe that was it.

I got the warm fuzzy about cycling when a handful of people, including one guy who "pedals" a recumbent using his arms, slowed and asked if I needed help, a tube, or CO2 cartridges. I do the same, so it all works out. I even helped a retired gentleman change a car tire once while out on a commute.

I didn't need any help, and in a few minutes, had the pressure up, good enough by feel, to remount the wheel and continue riding a bit. When I got home I saw that I had reached 60 PSI of the recommended 90 PSI maximum and topped it off with my floor pump. The patch seemed to work well enough to span the two tiny holes and hold pressure. My mini pump has settings for high volume or high pressure, so if I had been more patient, may have been able to get to 90 on the mini pump, but 60 was good enough to ride a bit.

I'm curious to see if the patch holds over the next few days. It sure beats the messy glue and rubber patches I used as a youth.

In the meantime, I'll be sure to watch out for more snake bikes on the Keystone!

Lessons Learned
  • Who needs expensive CO2 cartridges? If conditions allow, the mini pump is effective, and free to use, and if I mess up, I just reattach the pump and try again.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated. I understand skinny road tires can lose air more quickly than wider, lower pressure tires. Not sure if I headed out on low pressure, but maybe I did.
  • Glueless patches seem to work pretty well! At six patches per kit, it's way cheaper than buying a new tube.
  • Even for short rides, bring a blowout kit. Sure, I could have pushed the bike two miles, uphill, home, but where's the fun and adventure in that?
  • Pack two tire levers. For some reason I only had one. I didn't need two, but if I had, I didn't have it.
  • Cyclists are so cool, always looking out for each other.
  • Be comfortable fixing flats! I did this some as a kid, and have changed tires and tubes some for riding in different seasons. Anyone serious about cycling, (men, women, and children) should learn how to fix a flat. You will get flats! It's not that hard, and can be done in a few minutes with some practice.


RD said...

time to get Lezyne mini pump or frame pump huh?

Biker Bob said...

Let me know if the patches hold. I've tried the glueless patches on several punctures, and they seem to fail after a few days.