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Archive for the 'Flat Tire' Category

Road riding 2008: So far, three consecutive flat tires

Monday, January 14th, 2008

I rode the Water Works route on Saturday and suffered yet another flat tire. That means I’m 3/3 so far this year: three road rides, three flat tires. The first was mysterious, and I couldn’t find a leak or any obstructions in my tire. The second and third were from riding over glass, which got stuck in my tire and punctured the tube. I guess there must be more road debris around here during the winter. I patched my tube without incident this time, and several other cyclists rode by while I was working on it. They checked to make sure I had everything I needed — I did.

This brings me to the one downside to my Rivendell Roll-y Pol-y tires: they are damn near impossible to get on and off my rims. I didn’t care much once I got them on and road over 400 miles without a flat tire. But now that I seem to be getting regular flat tires, it’s becoming a real problem. I don’t know whether it’s because of the tires, or my rims, or if they just don’t play nicely together for some reason. But it’s driving me crazy. And of course, so are the flat tires, but I don’t blame the tires for that. Sure, if I had kevlar belts in my tires, I probably would’ve been OK, but I intentionally did not buy tires with the belts because of their weight. And I had no problems until recently. Maybe I need some tougher tires for winter.

I also scratched the paint on my top tube — I guess I leaned my bike against something abrasive. I’ll have to be more careful about that in the future. I finished the ride and enjoyed it a lot, once I was rolling again.

How not to fix a flat tire; windy commute this morning

Friday, January 11th, 2008

I worked from home yesterday, and I thought I’d try something new on my lunch: a bike ride. Some people whose blogs I read have mentioned riding at lunchtime, and some of my coworkers go to the gym at lunch, so I thought I’d try it. Since I was working from home, I didn’t have to worry about changing out of my work clothes (business casual) and back again upon my return.

My ride seemed doomed from the start. It was around 40 degrees and while it hadn’t rained all morning, a few drops started falling as I was getting ready. Undeterred, I headed out, figuring I would do my Mount Gilead Road route, which is about 13 miles and so can be done in under an hour. I was probably 2-3 miles into my ride when the rain started in earnest. I was getting wet, but I sure was enjoying my ride. I had to be extra careful going down the big hill since the roads were slightly wet, and very slippery.

After I climbed up out of the valley, I noticed a weird sound. At first, I thought something was rubbing somewhere, perhaps my fender rubbing the tire. It wasn’t. I realized my front tire had a leak in it and was hissing slightly as the air leaked out. It wasn’t the telltale sudden lound hissing sound that often accompanies a flat tire.

I pulled over and grabbed my pump so I could find the leak to patch it. I pumped some air into the tire and yanked the pump off, in the process tearing the core from the Presta valve stem. I had used the inner tube from my saddle bag on the previous ride and not replaced it, so although I felt prepared with my patch kit, I was completely screwed. Naturally, I was about halfway through my ride, placing me 6-7 miles from home. I wasn’t about to walk that kind of distance, so I called Sarah and she looked up a cab company number for me. While I was waiting for the cab, two different cars stopped to see if I was OK. So if I hadn’t had the cell phone, I’m sure I would’ve figured something out, but I was glad that I didn’t have to count on anyone else. And now the cab company number is in my cell phone.

Lesson learned (twice!): having a patch kit is not enough. I’ll carry a spare tube with me whenever possible. I’m a little baffled that two rides in a row, I had flat tires that I couldn’t handle with my patch kit. Even if the second time seems to have been my fault, it’s a little weird.

This morning’s commute was in the mid-30s and windy. I was dressed mostly appropriately but could have used my neck gaiter. I intended to take it easy, but I was battling 30 mph head- and cross-winds, in an upright position on a mountain bike. A few drops of rain fell, just enough to remind me that it could be much worse and be glad it wasn’t actually raining.

One piece of clothing I’ve found works really well for me, but that I haven’t seen or heard many other cyclists using, is a pair of jogging pants. I have a few pairs now of these, nylon pants with a mesh lining, and I think they’re great. They do a great job of shielding me from the wind and some are water-resistant.  The two layers provide warmth, but the mesh also keeps the outer layer from sticking to your skin. They dry quickly, too. These are great, and inexpensive. The only downsides I see are that they aren’t very aerodynamic, and sometimes I wish the legs were a little longer.

First road ride, and first flat tire, of 2008

Monday, January 7th, 2008

It was around 40 degrees on Saturday, and Sarah and I took advantage of the warmer weather to go hiking at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. We hiked the 2.7-mile Mason Ridge Trail, which was cool despite the fact that it crosses the road a few times. The downside was that part of the trail was closed for logging. The more I learn about (and see first-hand) the logging that goes on in our state forests, the more it upsets me. They claim it’s sustainable, but I’m not sure I’m convinced. We had a good hike though, despite that and despite the fact that we had trouble following the signs and maps we had.

It’s incredibly warm here now — it was around 60 degrees yesterday, with a high of 69 predicted for today. For January, this is insane. I took advantage of the warm weather to go for a bike ride yesterday. I chose the Ride Around Lake Monroe route, which  I’ve ridden once before. This ride also goes to the same area as Dr. T’s Funky Fifty.

Despite the warm weather, it was a pretty dreary day. It wasn’t raining while I was riding, but it had been earlier, so the roads were covered in water and grime. And it was overcast to the point where I wasn’t sure how well my camera would work. Fortunately, it did work. Anyway, I set out on Smith Road and took Moore’s Pike over to 446, which took me away from town. Traffic was light but winds were harsh, gusting to some 30 mph, and I rode into the wind for the first 12 miles of my ride or so.

Riding across Lake Monroe is always a highlight of any ride that takes 446 across the causeway. The lake had a weird blue-green hue, not the kind of green that makes you think of algae, but something a little brighter. Contrasted with the grey clouds and dark hills in the distance, the color of the lake seemed emphasized, and it looked almost surreal.

Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe had a weird blue-green hue

After Lake Monroe is a big climb that took a little more out of me than it should have. The lack of riding as of late is taking its toll.

Hill after crossing Lake Monroe

Limestone lines the road on another part of the climb

After that hill, 446 is pretty easy for a while, a little curvy but not very hilly. I took 446 to Chapel Hill Road, which is a fun road to ride on. At some point I realized that this route is roughly the same as the Hoosier Hills 60K route and for a while followed Dan Henrys. Chapel Hill has some rolling hills and a patchwork surface from workers patching potholes many times. For some reason I love riding on this kind of road more than roads with a perfectly smooth surface. It has a lot more character, each patch reflecting some part of the road’s history. It also makes things more challenging, choosing a good line, rather than ambling down the road without giving it much thought  — which is also great, just different.

I passed Krazy Joe’s Trading Post, which I’ve written about here before. I didn’t stop this time and I took some photos, but don’t feel the need to post more. For more about Krazy Joe’s, see my blog post Food, fiddlin’, and fun … plus caskets.

I rode further and the map didn’t match what I was seeing. To make matters worse, a number of roads didn’t have street signs. So, I got lost. Well not lost exactly, but I wasn’t sure what road I was on, or how to get to the road the map said to get on. I passed a church with a cemetery and a tattered flag, like so many flags around here have been since the winds hit a few weeks ago.

Point of view
Point of view riding shot

Chapel Hill Pentecostal Assembly
Chapel Hill Pentecostal Assembly

Tattered flag
Tattered flag

I took what I later determined to be a wrong turn and started noticing a weird squeaking sound as I pedaled. I thought it was my bottom bracket at first, but then I realized my tire was flat. I wasn’t sure, really, if it had just gone flat or if it had been slowly losing air, or what. I stopped and pumped some air into it to see if I could hear where the hole was. I couldn’t hear anything so I inflated the tire the best I could and continued riding back toward where I thought I had made the wrong turn. My tire continued losing air. I got onto what I thought was the right road and stopped by a forest across from an abandoned house to fix my tire.

Run-down house
Abandoned house

Normally, I would patch my inner tube and try to keep using it. Since I couldn’t find the leak, I had no choice but to install a fresh tube. A dog at a neighboring house took an interest in me and I almost moved elsewhere to get away from the dog, but he stayed on his property and watched intently without disturbing me. I felt the inside of my tire and the rip strip to see if I could find anything that might have poked the inner tube, but couldn’t find anything. I installed a fresh tube and it seemed to be holding air. After pumping for what seemed like forever, I was on the road again. I couldn’t help but feel a little jinxed because 2/3 of my rides in this area have been plagued with mechanical problems, first my cracked rim on Dr. T’s Funky Fifty, and now this. And every time I’ve ridden out here, I’ve gotten lost.

Rough, hilly road
A pretty place to change my tube

Pine-lined road
Pine trees

I soon determined that I was on the wrong road again, but I was on Coveyville Road, which was the next road I was supposed to turn on. So I kept going, knowing that this would get me to where I needed to be. This turned out to be a more fun way to go, I think, and it had me ride down a big hill and then climb up to the intersection of Hardin Ridge (I think) and Coveyville, which looks out over some farmland and a pond, with hills in the distance.Coveyville Panorama
Coveyville Panorama

After descending into a valley, the road becomes straight and flat for probably 3/4 mile, quite a dramatic change from the twisty, hilly roads I’d been on.

Flat, straight road

After this brief and easy flat section, the road turns and begins a climb labeled “The Alps.”  While I’ve never seen the real Alps, I suppose this name is apt. There’s a really long climb and once at the top you can, at this time of year, see through the trees to see valleys and hills after them, and the lake appears to be suspended on a hill; presumably I must have been seeing the dam. It was beautiful, but I knew my camera would focus on the forest and miss the scenery beyond.

I eventually got lost again. I was supposed to find Ramp Creek Road, but I saw nothing with that name. I need to look at some real maps of this area and see if I can’t figure out how things connect. I always get lost here and the Bloomington Bicycle Club maps do not at all seem to match the roads as I see them. I’m a decent map-reader, so I really do think it’s the map.

Lake Monroe
Lake Monroe

From here I decided to try to find Ramp Creek Road, which turned out to be a bad move as I passed where I feel I should have turned and ended up taking a really stupid route through town. Something similar happened on a past ride, but this was worse. I’ve never gotten lost so many times on one ride before … especially in my own town! I also ended up riding on some much busier roads than I would’ve liked. Drivers were courteous, but this was not a good way to go. I’m not sure what I did, but I need to familiarize myself with these roads. Perhaps a drive out in that area is in order.

Despite my flat tire and getting lost, I very much enjoyed this ride. I’m glad I took advantage of the rare January warm weather and rode longer than I have for a while. My ride ended up being just shy of 45 miles.

Silo, silhouette, sky
Silo silhouetted against the sky

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