Monday, September 10, 2007

How much for the little girl?

Early this year I was plagued by a series of flat tires.  I was given this sage advice by a friend who cheerfully identifies herself as a Pagan:
Take the tire and spread it out into a circle on the garage floor. Draw the wheel in the middle with chalk. Blow up a balloon and tape it to the middle of the drawing and leave it overnight. The next morning let all remaining air out of the balloon, erase the drawing and bury the balloon and tire. (Yes I know the ground is frozen. You'll have to figure that out on your own.) You'll have given the tire and some extra air to the tire gods and thus they will be appeased.
I believe I will be doing just that on Saturday.  Maybe one night this week if I can find the time.  Or perhaps I need something stronger, because my transportation problems have become multi-modal.  Here is a not so brief recap:
Thursday:  I'd been ill and therefore driving to work (a luxury of being not car free), but was feeling mostly better by Thursday.  Wife and kids wanted to have a picnic for dinner.  So they biked to Ft Snelling to swim at the beach.  I was to drive home, change, grab the cooler with dinner in it and meet them at the park.  What happened was I got in my car, drove about a mile and ran out of gas.  So I walked about 3 miles to the beach where the family was, jumped on wife's bike (which was comically small on me) and rode home to get a different car and a gas can.  I tried to start my station wagon, but the battery was dead.  I knew that I couldn't fit the kids' bikes in the Jetta, so I took our van.  I rescued the vehicle from the side of the road, and we managed to have our picnic.  Thursday night I decided I was done driving to work.  I had two bikes with flat tires in the garage.  So I fixed the flat on the Premis, planning to ride it to work.
Friday:  Tire on the Premis was flat in the morning.  Grrr.  So I took the Jamis.  On the way home I was headed down the hill on Highway 13 when I heard a loud pop and a whoosh.  I'd run something over and flatted the tire almost immediately.  I was less than a mile from home and just walked it out.  Friday night after watching a movie with a friend I went into the garage and changed the tire on the Suburban, planning to take that for the Hiawatha ride.
Saturday:  I came out to the garage to find the Suburban had a flat.  So I considered my options.  Jamis, flat.  Premis, fixed Thursday but flat.  Suburban, fixed Friday but flat.  I thought long and hard about just going back to bed, but ended up taking the Robin Hood off the wall and riding it on the ride.  I threw down the gauntlet to the tire gods and left home without a tube, patch, any tools or a cell phone.  If I had a problem, I was on my own.  After post-ride hobknobbing at the shop, I headed for home.  As I was just reaching Ft Snelling the tire started to rub, and then exploded with a deafening report.  Flat #4.  I was ready to fling the bike over the bluffs and watch it sink in the Mississippi.  But that wouldn't do me any good, so I ditched the bike in the weeds and walked the four miles home.  I came back in the Jetta and picked up the bike.
Sunday:  I spent most of the afternoon in the garage watching the Vikings and fixing flats.  First, I fixed the Premis.  I patched the tube and switched out the tire.  I took the old tire and mounted it on a different rim and mounted that complete wheel on a frame I have in the workstand.  Then I started on the Jamis.  I patched the tube and booted the tire, since I didn't have a spare in that size.  After that was a quick patch on the Suburban.  I took a break to play catch with my daughters in the yard and when I came back to the garage the Suburban was flat again.  I started taking the tire off of that bike and heard the sound or air escaping.  The wheel I'd mounted on the workstand frame was going flat.  Aaargh!  I finished re-patching the Suburban's tire (same spot, the original patch just didn't hold) and decided to ignore the wheel from the workstand.  I can't seem to see a pattern in all of this.  I went through the tires on each bike with a fine toothed comb looking for anything that might be causing the flats and came up with nothing.  I used three different patches, two different brands of glueless and one with glue, and had failures with all of them.
Monday:  I got up to go to work, and the tire on the Jamis was flat again.  I rode the trike.

I think I'm going to start slowly replacing tires with either Pasela Tourguards or Conti Ultra GatorSkins.  Any recommendations of one over the other?  Or a different tire that you would recommend?  And also, let me know if you are aware of any open minded virgins who have nothing to live for and wouldn't mind taking part in a short sacrificial ritual...

Date: September 8
Mileage: 27
Ride type/Bike: Hiawatha/Robin Hood
September mileage: 79
Year to date mileage: 2827
Date: September 10
Mileage: 26
Ride type/Bike: Commute/Trike
September mileage: 104
Year to date mileage: 2931


Smudgemo said...

If you are getting punctures, I'm all about the Specialized Armadillos.

But here's the thing. You are getting flats on different bikes. What is the same on them? Are you using tire liners? They can rub holes in the tubes. Pulling a too-tight pump's head off a stem can tear the stem and tube apart enough to cause leaks that you won't be able to fix. What about rim tape? Be sure your rim strips are the correct width and are covering all the spoke holes properly. I use Velox and like to overlap the last inch or two (which also covers the rim around the stem hole.) The only other thing I can think of is if you screw up the install of the tube, you can cut it or damage it. I always inflate slightly and squeeze both sides of the tire to make sure the tube is not anywhere near the bead/rim interface.

midway cyclist said...

wow, that sucks.

I had a spate of flats on the mountain bike last year, though it was our exchange student riding it. I believe the problem was too-tight presta nuts pulling the stems out over time. At least half of your bikes have schraeders in this case though, so that's no help.

Do you have a common route with these bikes? Maybe you're picking up some glass or something? I've had flats where the piece of glass was buried in the rubber until the tire was inflated. I only find those by turning the tire inside-out, flexing it, looking for glints of light, etc. Frustrating though.

FWIW, i've been riding regular Paselas for the last couple of years on my usual commuter and i like them a lot. Of course, by commenting here at all i've cursed myself for the ride home. Oh well... good luck!

Matt said...

I had a whole sequence of mystery flats that turned out to be the plastic rim tape with a tiny cut it in that would gnaw on the tube. But that was one wheel on one bike (I replaced the rim tape on both wheels with cloth), not an epidemic throughout the fleet.

On the other hand, look at all that healthy walking you're getting to do! You should report that mileage: Flat tire/out of gas walking mileage to date.

On my Atlantis I mostly get flats when I ride it in Des Moines for some reason.

rigtenzin said...

Well, that all sucks. I used to get lots of flats riding to downtown MPLS and started using Armadillos with Mr. Tuffies, and Slimed tubes. That was the end of flats for me. Of course, the tires felt like solid tires.

When I replaced the rear tire, the tube was welded to the Mr. Tuffie and tire because of the Slime leaking out after every puncture (that I never noticed).

Snakebite said...

If you do that funky "get rid of flats" ritual in your garage, be sure to take pictures of it. Better yet, video it and then youtube it.

Alana said...

If the ritual works maybe you could teach it at pagan pride at the end of the month :)

jim w said...

I have a set of the Specialized Armadillos on my kogswell, and (knock wood) not had a flat. In fact, I may have a pair of 700x23s with a thousand miles on them, and they are your's if you want them.

If can find them in the garage, of course.

Pete said...

But Jim, if you've got a set of Armadillos why aren't you riding them? Too skinny?

Nancy said...

I vote for the pagan ritual.

Pete said...

You just don't want me to buy new tires! ;-)

jim w said...

Just a bit to the skinny side for my wide assxw

Nancy said...

Pagan. Love the P. Love it!