Snake Bit

“If you are angry, count to four.  If you are very angry, swear.”  – Mark Twain

I suffered another flat on my rear wheel today.  This one occurred seven miles into a planned 30 mile ride.  But that was just the beginning of my fun.  I thought I was well prepared for this eventually and it was with some confidence that I pulled off the road and set about replacing my tube with the spare I keep in my saddle bag.  Things were moving very quickly at first.  After ten minutes the end was in sight and I was hopeful I would continue my ride.  In retrospect, I can’t believe I was this stupid.  Nothing works this smoothly for me.  Nothing.

I grabbed my CO2 cartridge and prepared to use it.  I’ve never used one of these things before but the concept is fairly straightforward.  You simply place the cartridge in a holder which you then thread into the “business end” of the device (the part which attaches to the inner tube).  Eventually, a small tip inside the device punctures the cartridge and you are all set to push air into the tire.

I screwed the cartridge into place and was briefly (VERY briefly) pleased to hear the sound of the cartridge being punctured.  Then I became very alarmed as all the air immediately escaped out of the cartridge.  It flowed out the top and pushed itself out of the cartridge holder.  It was very cold and it took about five seconds.  I have no idea why the cartridge malfunctioned.  Frankly, I’m still too pissed to look at the thing.

Stranded on the road in 95 degree heat, I was forced to once again call home for a ride.  This time my daughter had the honor.  I returned home to see my neighbor explaining to my wife how he accidentally set fire to the electric chain saw he borrowed from me earlier in the day, but that’s a whole other (nonbiking) story! 

Once again I pulled the tire off the frame.  Once again I checked it for damage which might cause a flat.  Finding none, I once again checked the tire rim for the same thing and found nothing amiss.  I once again mounted the tube, replaced the tire and once again mounted it on the bike.  Sigh. 

Needless to say, my confidence in CO2 cartridges is just a tad shaken at this point.  I therefore grabbed a tire pump my wife bought for me several weeks ago (“Thanks, honey, but I really don’t need that.  I’ve got CO2 cartridges!”) and put it on my frame.  It’s a tight fit between the pump and the big sprocket but a short 100-yard test ride indicates there is enough clearance for the chain when shifting.

It’s been a tough cycling week, what with two flats on three rides, a broken spoke and a night in the shop.  Here’s hoping I’ve just hit a rough patch!

11 thoughts on “Snake Bit

  1. Should I assume that you swore?!
    It could have been worse — from your title, I thought that you might have spent some time in the ER from a snake bite!
    Hang in there! It will all be worth it when you’re a pro! 🙂

  2. You need some new tyres. Lots of folk seem to swear by Schwalbe Marathon Plus, I’ve got on great with a pair of Continental City Contact. Just choose something that calls itself puncture-proof.

  3. I always carry two tubes and a patch kit. I use a frame pump. Wouldn’t trust a CO2 cartridge ever. Besides once you use the cartridge you’re done. At least with a pump you got options.

    I hate those annoying punctures where you can’t find the cause. Especially the slow ones.

    1. I believe my CO2 days are over. The manufacturer claims a 16 gram cartridge is good for 2.5 tubes, but that is irrelevant if the damn thing is going to malfunction in a crisis.

      Not finding a cause is very annoying, especially since all three flats have occurred on the rear wheel, which I understand typically does not get many flats.

      1. I’ve had more flats on the back than on the front. If you are getting multiple flats may I suggest taking the tire off the rim, flipping it inside out, and carefully inspecting the inside of the tire for an embedded piece of glass or stone or debris. It can be tough to find. Putting the tire on with the label at the valve stem will also help you discover where on the tire the hole in the tube is coming from because you have a reference point and can narrow down to a particular part of the tire. RevRider

      2. If it goes flat again, that’s what I’ll do. I read similar advice in one my cycling books last night. The author also suggests applying talcum powder to the tube to help keep it from sticking to the tire, which may be the cause.

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