It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… for the first time this year the weather was warm enough to cycle in just shorts and a jersey, finally freed of the all extra layers I headed out on my road bike for a ride out to and up the Malvern Hills.
The first seven miles were pretty uneventful, the brand new Mavic wheels, tyres and tubes that I fitted in the morning were running smoothly and providing good levels of grip. That was until I cycled through some broken glass on the side road, a couple of yards down the road and there was a gut wrenching long loud hissing noise from the rear wheel and the inevitable puncture. Not a problem I thought, I took out my tools and spare tube and set about repairing it, having located the piece of glass that had penetrated straight through the tyre, I removed it and fitted a spare tube. That was easy, just need to pump it back up and I’ll be on my way.
My mini pump/co2 inflator will work with both Schrader (car type) and Presta valves, as this was my road bike I needed the Presta option. It’s just a case of unscrewing the adaptor on the pump to extend it so that it will fit onto a Presta valve. Could I unscrew the adaptor? No, it was stuck tight, with no spanner or pliers to move it I was stuck on the side of the road. Luckily for me I had punctured 400 yards away from a bike shop (Malvern Cycles), I crossed the road and headed in to see if I could borrow a pump.
The owner/assistant was extremely helpful and it wasn’t long before the tyre was fully inflated and ready to ride again. I also took the opportunity to borrow the tools needed to free the adaptor on my pump. The last thing to do was to buy another tube, unfortunately I was a £1 short for the tube – “not to worry, I’ve got some patches if I get another one”. With that the owner said I could have a £1 Sunny Day Discount and he let me have the tube at the discounted price.
Back on the bike I cycled up into Great Malvern, having lost some time fixing the puncture I decided to take a shorter route and headed back in the direction of home. Three miles later whilst descending a hill at 25 mph there was a loud bang from the rear wheel, this time followed by an instant deflation, the rear started sliding all over the place. I managed to get the bike under control and to a stop on the side of the road.
Having removed the tyre and tube, I looked for the cause of the blow out. I couldn’t find anything immediately obvious that had pierced the tyre, with the speed of the deflation and that the tube wouldn’t hold enough air to locate the hole I assumed that I must have pinched the tube between the wheel and tyre when I repaired the last puncture. I fitted the spare tube and put the bike back together, as I started to pump the tyre up I could see the tube starting to bulge out of the tyre, there was a centimetre rip in the sidewall of the tyre! I knew that as soon as I put any weight onto the tyre it would burst the tube again.
Needless to say I am not very impressed for a that to happen on a brand new tyre with only 10 miles of use, unfortunately for Mavic it ripped right next to their logos. I wont be recommending the Yksion Elite Guard tyres anytime soon. Although I will say I am very happy with their Aksium Elite wheels.
Stranded in Malvern, I would be pushing the bike home now. With the prospect of eight miles on foot in SPD cleats, I suddenly remembered reading about a mountain biker that used a ski lift pass between the tube and the tyre to retain the tube and stop the bulging. The only item I had on me that might possibly work was an SIS gel packet, I drank the gel and folded over the sticky gel packet and inserted it between the tyre.
I was expecting it to get me a couple of miles down the road as the corners of the packet were rather sharp and likely to pierce the tube again, but it was worth a shot if it reduced the walk. To my surprise, it got me the entire eight miles home, although the wheel, tube and tyre were rather sticky.
Normally I wouldn’t blog about a couple of punctures, but theres a couple of key messages to this tale.
First – Without Malvern Cycles my ride would have been over at the first puncture. The internet may be great to shop around and save a few pounds here and there, but it’s still next day delivery and they can’t lend you a pump/tool and they certainly won’t be able to help whilst you are out on your bike. It’s important that we support our local bike shops (LBS).
Second – I see many empty gel packets on the road side, especially during sportives. Please stick your rubbish in your pocket and take it home, it may just save the day.