If you’re carrying a patch kit, you’re better prepared than I am, but I am also a little worried about you. It’s clear to me as I stand by, likely in the shade, waiting patiently, that you’ve suffered before. You’ve been bitten once, twice, quite possibly thrice, and now you’re four times (there is no ‘frice’ or ‘quarce’) shy. We’re stuck by the side of the road with traffic heedlessly buzzing past us, and you’ve got out a tiny square of sand paper and comical little tube of glue.
The comedy is likely to continue, right? Next comes the hopelessly ineffective not-floor pump, the one we take turns flailing away at trying to get something approaching a rideable tire pressure. How there isn’t a popular workout routine that incorporates these small instruments of futility, I don’t know. We’d all have ripped forearms.
Oh, let’s just hazard the guess that you’ve got CO2 with you, although I have to say the person who carries a patch kit doesn’t strike me as a believer in compressed gas. And I get that. You like things you can rely on, like sand paper and glue. How many times have we all heard that tragic whoosh as gas floods out of the tiny canister, churlishly refusing to enter the valve it’s latched to? A lot of times, that’s how many. CO2 can be your salvation, but it can also play a one note funeral dirge for your ride.
Every time I get a flat, I think to myself, “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t make a supple tire that won’t flat under the deleterious influence of thorns, roofing nails, and/or strangely sharp stones.”
I run tubeless on my mountain bike, but that didn’t stop me from flatting on a narrow, roller-coaster downhill trail in Vermont last weekend. I sat there, trailside, watching liquid latex squirt in a fine mist from my tire’s sidewall. I kept waiting for it to seal. I waited until the tire was fully flat. Then I cried softly into one sweaty glove.
Have you ever tried prying a tubeless tire off a carbon with sweaty hands while squatting in sand on the side of a hill in high summer? Let me tell you, it’s divine. It only took about 15 minutes and two forearm cramps to get rolling again. I’d call that success. I did call it success. I said, “Well, that was a success.” My riding companions made sounds that were, at best, non-committal.
This week’s Group Ride asks, how do you fix a flat? What’s your equipment look like? How prepared are you usually? Are you prone to flats, or do you hardly ever feel that tell-tale wobble?