A Tale of Two Punctures

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.

Malvern Cycles

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.

Science In Sport, Tyre, Mavic, Boot, Puncture

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.


Celebrating Life – MI +5

If you have read my blog before you will know that, at the age of 38, I suffered a myocardial infarction (MI, better known as a heart attack).  It was caused by a combination of bad habits – a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, smoking and a general lack of exercise.  That was five years ago and I have come along way since that hospital bed in Scotland, completely turning my life around by taking up cycling and running.

I don’t want anybody to have to go through what I did on the fateful day in April 2011.  Through my involvement with the Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Campaign, I’ve been sharing my story to encourage others to become active, whilst offering hope and inspiration to other heart failure patients that there is a future after such life changing events.

To mark the 5th anniversary of my MI and raise awareness of Heart Failure I’ve set myself a few challenges for April and May: –


I’ll be in my bright orange OS GetOutside kit for all four rides, do please say hello if you see me!

The main event is London to Paris, I leave Greenwich at 4pm on Saturday 30th and need to arrive at the Eiffel Tower before 4pm on the Sunday (70 miles to Newhaven for the four hour night ferry crossing to Dieppe and then 120 miles to Paris).


Whilst awareness of Heart Disease/Failure and getting people more active is my main driving force, I would like to raise much needed funds for Pumping Marvellous, a heart charity that represents the needs of nearly one million heart failure patients and just as importantly the patients families, at the same time.

If you would like to help the fight against heart failure – 20% of the adult population in the UK will be touched by heart failure and heart disease at sometime in their life – please donate to Pumping Marvellous by visiting my Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/coeurcycliste