18 February 2012

The first rule of flat tires is, don't talk about flat tires


A while back I wrote about how great my Continental Gatorskins have been great so far with very few punctures. And this is true. It has been great. At the time I wrote that post I hadn't ever had a puncture with the Gatorskins in around 2,500 km. We always inspect our tires before organized rides, and I'd often found pieces of glass embedded in the tire, but they'd just never gone through. I was starting to feel they were invincible!

Then, about two weeks after that post, we were prepping our bikes for the Tea and Biscuits 100 audax and I found a piece of glass. Deflated the tire, pulled it out with tweezers, and started to pump it up again. It wouldn't pump; there was a massive hole in the inner tube and air was rushing out of it. My first flat tire on the Gatorskins! Well, I was lucky it happened at home rather than out in the freezing temperatures the next day.

One of the (very few) disadvantages of a good set of tires is that I have very little experience with changing inner tubes. The first time I flatted on my road bike, I did most of it myself under Alberto's tutelage. The second time, we were in a rush so Alberto did it. And that's it. I've seen lots of people change tires and understand all the theory, I just haven't had much opportunity to do it myself. So I actually was very excited to change the inner tube. So excited, in fact, that at first I tried to get to work without taking the wheel off the bike! That didn't go to well. 

Alberto snapped this picture and then left the room. I think he probably couldn't stand to see me struggling! I imagined I was alone on a ride in the middle of nowhere (which I never have been) and got to work taking the tire off, replacing the inner tube, and putting the tire back on. It took me the better part of an hour but I managed to do it! On my own without any help! The only thing I would have struggled with would have been using the hand pump -- I used our floor pump and still found it a bit difficult to get it up to a high enough PSI. But in a real life situation, I know I could pump it up enough to ride home on. 

It has actually been a good confidence boost for me. I still wouldn't want to have to spend an hour in the cold or rain dealing with a flat tire alone, but it is a big step towards feeling comfortable going on longer rides on my own. So it turns out, my first puncture on the Gatorskins was a blessing in disguise!

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