A Full And Complete Stop…

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ejwme
Participant
#

So after an agonizing, frustrating, month-long haiatus of biking and all forms of exercize due to various Medical Shenanigans, I’m back in the saddle again this morning, just in time to save the remaining shreds of my sanity (and to realize I didn’t get all fat and out of shape like I felt, yay).

It’s 6AM, and I’m toodling through the back road suburbs at a comfortable pace through the fog, headlight and rear lights blazing in no traffic at all. I see what I think is my headlight reflecting off an expected stop sign and slow down to a stop, wondering why my headlight is bobbing so much that the sign is flickering.

Upon stopping, I realize that I’ve come to a full and complete stop at a flickering, glowing, nylon pumpkin decorating someone’s lightpost, three houses or so down from the stop sign. I pause to ponder how wise it is for me personally to be on a bicycle if I can’t tell whether I’m awake enough to distinguish between a glowing gourd and a stop sign. I recognize that it’s safer than me driving, and continue on my way.

One mile later, I get a flat, right beside the First Student bus depot in Monroeville. About 20 bus drivers/ Access employees drove in and out and idled beside me without asking if I was ok. That had me a tidge miffed, until I found what caused my flat, which is far more enraging:

It’s blurry because it’s so tiny the camera can’t handle it. It appears to be either a roadkill bone shard, or small rock. I’m hoping for rock, since I touched it.

So – given that roads are essentially entirely made up of this substance, do I need thicker tires, thicker innertubes, or is this the Universe’s way of punishing me for not having a patch kit and pump with me at all times?

I think the pumpkin was an omen.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I’ll go with rock, though it looks like it could be a very worn chunk of a nail.

There are a couple of other active threads on the topic of flat prevention. Quick version: Fully inflated tires, good tires (at least not worn to where you can see through them from the inside out), and a thingy to run between tube and tire to keep sharp things that make it through the tire from getting to your tube.

Driving and riding in fog is something we haven’t talked much about on the board. I’d think that on a bike you can hear traffic coming better than see it, but that doesn’t help drivers much. I would treat it somewhat like snow. Yeah, I can deal with it myself, it’s the other guy who’s the problem.


ejwme
Participant
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The fog wasn’t really an issue, except that I stopped at a pumpkin, in addition to a stop sign. I’m thinking unless they mount a reddish nylon turkey next month, I should be safe from additional confusing curbside decorations.

I think I’ll move a little faster to get my additional rear blinkies up an in order though, the fog did make me a little nervous about getting rearended.

The tire was inflated as much as I would have tried to inflate it – it punctured right in the middle of the “tread” (not between rim and tire, but there’s no actual knobs to speak of, it’s smooth). Tire liner – I don’t think that came standard, but I’ll add it now.

The other threads had me thinking that I should go pick up that kit Bikeygirl mentioned, or at least ask DH if they have something similar. I was starting to plan on how to carry all that on the frame kind of like I always carry my lock stuff.

I believe I am being punished for my slow moving in this area, which is well deserved. Also for erroniously stopping at a pumpkin.


BradQ
Participant
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If you are relying on your bike for transportation and not carrying the basic means to fix a flat, you will end up stranded right when you least wish to be. I don’t go further than the post office without a pump and tube, and am usually prepared for multiple flats before having to hoof it home.

Really, I sound like a broken record on here. The latest round of flat resistant tires from the past couple of years are awesome.


Nick D
Participant
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On that section of road, it could be anything–people dump all kinds of stuff around there (plus debris from wrecks, fires, school bus vandalism). Odds are, that is a piece of steel.


dwillen
Participant
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See if it sticks to a magnet.


ejwme
Participant
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not magnetic! Seriously looks like a bone shard, but very gray for a bone. I did not ride anywhere near the shoulders there this morning, passed without incident.

Yesterday I purchased a patch kit, tire levers, a hand pump to keep on the bike, and a spare tube. I learned how to change a tire on the back wheel (wow super easy, I thought more would be involved) and replaced the tube. I also ordered… I asked for the tires Brad mentioned (tried to do research and immediately got overwhelmed by choice – nobody’s disagreed with Brad so I follow the good advice). They talked me in to a slightly more expensive tire (don’t remember the name, ~$15 more a tire or so, hopefully worth it)… it’s got reflective side walls (for how long?) and can withstand a thumb tack poking w/o consequence. So I’ve taken care of the mechanics of getting a flat, and taken care of fate (now carrying and understand how to use appropriate supplies to take care of at least two flats on a single ride).

I figure since I rode about a tenth of a mile on a flat tire without noticing it (the road just felt a little bumpier, but I figured it was just bumpy ’cause it’s a road in PA), I don’t need to be too concerned with a smoothe ride. I don’t take turns fast (most are from a stop due to the intersections I ride through), and when the snows hit I’ll be swapping for studded tires anyway. I’d rather pedal harder and know without a doubt I will not miss that shuttle to Cranberry (or bus home, or appointment) than have another flat.

By next wednesday I should be so well equipped I will not have to use my new tools and understanding. While I admire people who can change a flat so ridiculously fast I can’t even see their arms moving, I would rather not have that much experience.

That pumpkin looked nothing like a stop sign today, maybe the fog was thicker than I thought.


Erica
Participant
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hey, never hurts to be “too prepared.”

In my bag (which goes with me everywhere, bike or not) there’s screwdrivers, tire levers, hand pump, patch kit, allen keys, spare bike lock, wrench, chain lube. All I need is a spare tube for the size tires I have now, and an old tube in case I need to tie a crate up to the rack.


rsprake
Participant
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Sounds like maybe you got the Vittoria Randonneurs which I have and haven’t flatted on all summer. The side walls light up really well when a light is shined towards them and hasn’t worn off. I am a little disappointed in how fast the rear tire has worn, but I have ridden this bike almost every day this summer over trails, potholes etc. They are a bitch to get over the rim so it’s a good thing they are puncture proof. :)


ejwme
Participant
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RF – you reminded me I forgot to ask for the old tube back! (the shop guy really pushed to change it for me, and I figured I could watch and learn but he moved so fast) When I’m back in the shop I’ll ask if they have any extra. My bungees are loosing their bunge.

rsprake – no idea, I’ll post when I get them for posterity :D I like stories of no flats, wear is sad though. At least it’s predictable!


edmonds59
Participant
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Un-worn tires are much sadder, a bike with the niblets still on the tires makes me want to cry. Unless I am buying it from a sucker. ;)


Lyle
Participant
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I’d like to see those tires of yours in action sometime, ewjme and rsprake. I love reflective stuff, but so far I haven’t seen any reflective tires that were worth paying extra for.

Now maybe if they had little reflective paddles that stuck out off the sides… but that would probably only work with disk brakes.


BradQ
Participant
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Lyle – Check out the Duro reflective tires. I’m not impressed with the Vittoria reflectiveness even if the tires rule. The Duro versions however are pretty kick ass. I have a couple of pairs of them, and they are bright as can be and don’t fade or chip off.


dwillen
Participant
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I had a set of schwalbe Big Apples on my 29er with a nice reflective strip around the sidewall. Tires wore down before the strip showed any signs of fading. Probably not the fastest tires ever invented though :-)

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