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Always be Prepared

June 17, 2014

You might recognize the name Jerry Dusterhoff. He is the man behind the book “Bicycle Journeys with Jerry.” Jerry’s also a Bicycle Sport Shop club member and on a recent ride last month was reminded of the old adage to always be prepared. Here’s his account of a comedy of errors. Hopefully it reminds all of us to make sure we’ve got a plan for the typical roadside mechanical–the dreaded puncture–and to make sure we’re up for the challenge by taking a maintenance class like those offered at BSSU.  (You can check out Jerry’s full blog here.)



When you ride in a group, in our case no more than two wide, the accepted protocol is to point or yell out obstacles to give the folks behind an heads-up was to what they are approaching. “Glass” “hole” and “gravel” are what most of these obstacles are, with an occasional “car up.” Glass and hole are self-explanatory, but gravel, while it mostly means loose rocks or pebbles, can mean any sort of loose stuff on the ground. I was prepared for gravel. What I got was something else. Can’t say for sure, but in a split-second, I had two flat tires.
At first I thought I had escaped with an easy front tire change out. But then my back tire was pointed out to me. Bad words flooded my head (but didn’t escape on my tongue). I only had one spare tube. Not to worry, we had sixteen riders who all had spares they could lend me. While I worked on the front tire, ride-leader Carolyn worked on the back. We used CO2 cartridges to speed things along, but tried to get by with just one. The front wheel was done, after I had run my fingers around the inside to check for foreign matter. The back tire needed more air, so I got out my trusty hand-pump and got it up to decent level. In removing it, I managed to break off the top of the valve stem. Fortunately, it stayed closed. I didn’t lose any additional air.
But experienced cyclists know that CO2 seeps through tubes much quicker than air, so the back tire, already soft, would do nothing but get more soft in the next few hours. Things got worse. Todd pointed out that my ready-to-mount front tire, while not having any glass or wire or stuff sticking in it, did have a large gash in the sidewall. Pook ding-fu!! The extended delay added to my frustration. I hate holding up the group. To ease my tension, Todd (after taking our picture) took the rest of the folks, leaving Carolyn and … I never got his name, my bad, to assist in getting me back on the road.
Jerry gets an assist from Carolyn.

Jerry gets an assist from Carolyn.

Not to worry!  I carry a “boot” in my saddle pack. In this case, the “boot” is a four inch section of old tire. We let the air out, inserted the boot, and replaced the tube (this is the Reader’s Digest version). Somehow, in getting the tire back on the rim, I pinched the tube. Now we need another tube and some more CO2. A rider not with our group stopped and offered his CO2. Thank you very much. This is getting old quick.
On the rare occasions when I have had a flat while out riding, I usually bring the tube home and do a post-mortem, and if it is just one hole that is fixable, will patch it up and continue on. The frustration of getting two flats, only having one tube, missing the gash in the tire, and putting another tube out of commission really put me off my game. When we got to the gas station turn-around spot in Creedmore, where the rest of the group waited, I just tossed the tubes. And, knowing my back tire was continuing to bleed air, advised Todd I ‘d move on out, and they could catch me on the way in.
It wasn’t such a bad ride back, about sixteen miles, but I took the corners cautiously, not wanting to roll the back tire off the rim. As I rode I continued to stew about missing the gash when checking the tire. The group caught up right before getting to the bike shop. I immediately purchased two new tires (there was nothing wrong with my back tire, but I changed from 700×23 to 700×25), and replacement tubes and cartridges for my friends who donated to my plight. Quite an expensive ride today.
Make sure you're prepared. Details on course offerings can be found here.

Make sure you’re prepared. Details on course offerings can be found here.

Once home I washed the bike and swapped out tires and tubes. But I had to sacrifice another tube to the gods. I have yet to put on new tires without damaging at least one tube, no matter how careful I am. So it is back to the bike shop for two more tubes to carry in my saddle pack, and more CO2 cartridges, plus a new mechanism for the cartridges. The one I have is Spartan and difficult to use. I waited an extra day before posting this in order to let my ire expire. It hasn’t. It will probably never happen again, but if it does, I’ll be prepared.
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