Monday, October 20, 2008


I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but a picture wouldn't work. About a dozen of us (60%-40% male to female) were riding yesterday. The least experienced (female) rider in the group managed to let a small nail get through the tire and flatted and we all stopped. Immediately, a gallant male removed the back wheel (and I gallantly held the bike) and stripped the tire and tube off. Another male searched the tire for the hole, found it and determined a boot was not necessary. First male put the new tube on the wheel, then reached for the tire. I mentioned I had never seen this procedure before, but he continued until realizing you really can't do it this way (group laughter, red face). Second male then took the tire and tube, put the tube inside the tire and proceeded to install on the wheel. For the record, I always put one side of the tire on the rim, insert the tube, then the other side. Anyhow, that done, second male scorned the compressed air offered, and attached his frame pump and inflated the tube. Working assiduously on the pump, he hadn't noticed that the tire had not seated properly until almost finished. Glancing up, he uttered an expletive and let all the air out before the tube exploded (group laughter, red face). Tire properly seated, he again inflated the tube to a sufficient level. Triumphantly, he released the pump and removed it with a flourish. Unfortunately, it wasn't a clean jerk and he managed to also remove the valve stem with the pump (astonished group exclamation, laughter, really red face). One of the ladies had another spare tube and got it, took the wheel, took the tire, installed everything back on the wheel. Owner of the wheel then approached the wheel with her compressed air. Just before releasing it, one of the other males yelped and asked if she had done this before (because about eight cyclists had their hands over their ears). Short explanation: she had a 650 tire and a large CO2 cylinder. This third male gently explained that was too much air for the tube and would require an experienced hand. He then aired up the tire, all was well, and we finished the ride. All told, we had six cyclists involved on this one flat.
Additional note: We were not a group of friends, probably no more than three people knew each other. But, as experienced cyclists who knew group protocol, everyone stopped, pitched in or stayed out of the way as needed, and no one really got fussed over the odd happenings. That is one of the things that makes group cycling a lot of fun.


  1. Fixing flats can always be an adventure. I got one today where the hole is so small the tube doesn't go completely flat, and I absolutely cannot SEE the hole, just feel the air with higher pressure. I will look at it closer when I patch it tomorrow when I have sunlight to see better.

  2. The only time that happened to me, it was the valve. Good luck

  3. I could have been the gal with the flat. I too am most grateful for the roadside support offered by my cycling companions. They are very generous folks (plus, they probably don't want to hang around for half an hour waiting for me to do the job myself).

    But on the down side, the gallantry, combined with the fact that I almost never (touch wood) get a flat anyway, means I can barely change a tire. And God help me if it's the back tire.

    BTW, what Barry mentioned must be the reason that most of the infrequent times I've had a flat have involved me finding my bike in the garage with a completely deflated tire, even though the day before I'd written 30 or 40 miles with no apparent problem. One thing I've heard is to submerge the tube in water and look for the bubbles.

  4. Amy, Your comment about putting the tube underwater began a new thread of thought. I started my adult phase of cycling by never patching a tube, thus never worried about the hole. But you still have to find the leak in order to double-check the inside of the tire, because much of the time, the offending object is still there. An experienced rider will, when originally installing the tire, line up the logo with the valve stem. Then, when removing the tube, be careful to keep the same configuration while locating the leak. That way, the same place on the tire is easily identified. BTW, I will now patch a tube if the hole is small and NOT a seam leak.