Tag Archives: puncture

Thread bare

I hadn’t seen it before I left home this morning, so when I heard, for like the fifth time this year, the all too familiar HISSing sound signalling a puncture, I was livid.  Can I not get a break?  What did I run over this time?  There was no glass!  I am more vigilant than a bloodhound chasing a smokey Polish sausage.  I’m telling you the road was clear of sharp objects.  Just your usual grit and small stones.

Well, turns out that when you’ve exposed the inner thread of the tyre because there is no rubber left, you don’t actually need all that much to pop the inner tube.  As I got off the bike, only six kilometres shy of the office and swearing to myself quite excessively, I wondered how big a nail I was going to find to justify such a loud hiss.  Nothing.  I spun the wheel once and there was nothing sticking out.  What the..?  Oh wait, what’s that?

I have actually worn a hole through the tyre. Not bad.

It was a hole.  Well, more accurately it was a lack of rubber that caused the thread to be exposed and therefore the inner tube.  I didn’t need a nail to spell the end.  The small gritty, and evidently sharp, little stones that I roll over routinely had been enough.  All it takes is one to nestle in the threads and slowly weaken the tube with the regular friction of rolling and then all of a sudden POP! it can’t take it any longer.  My tyre had gone flat very fast and so it was that a decent size tear was visible.

Alright, time to get out the tools and change the tube.  Of course, I knew that replacing the tube was going to temporarily solve the problem, but with the whole in the tyre still being very present I was not convinced that I was going to get very far.  The tyre changing exercise proved to be an exercise in managing my anger as well.  The first tube went in, bunt when I had got the tyre back into the clinchers I noticed that the valve was not coming through as it should.  A little frustrated yanking and wiggling resulted in no improvement so I removed the tyre again.  I don’t know whether I tore the new tube when I put the tyre back on, or when I rather aggressively took it of again, but that was hardly important.  What was, was the fact that I now had a new tube with a hole in it, and staring at it in disbelief was not going to change that fact.

OK, nobody panic.  I have another tube.  I knew it would pay to have two in my back pack.  Worth the extra weight now, hey?  But be careful.  You’re not carrying three tubes, so you pop this one as well you really up up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Alright, I am on my way again, and I am doing my best to avoid every single pebbly looking object that I see on the path in front of me.  I am dodging here and there and frankly if anyone had been following me at that early time in the morning they would have cited me for riding under the influence.  I did, however, get to the office, something I put down to my skilful if not erratic bike handling skills.  Would I get back though?

I didn’t have to get the whole way back.  I wanted to, but I at least wanted to get within 8 km of home because it was there that I planned to stop at Rossi’s bike shop and pick up a couple of new tyres.  I can be stubborn sometimes and really try and bleed my monies worth out of a tyre, but I figure I already had one bald patch in the rear and it wasn’t going to get any smaller so I should bite the bullet and invest in a couple of new tyres.  In the garage at the office I squeezed the rear tyre and it felt a little soft, no doubt due to my lack of caring that morning and simply not putting in enough air.  I topped it up as best I could using the little hand held pump, and set off.

By the time I reached Rossi’s thirty minutes later I was elated.  I’d done it.  I’d cheated the inner tube gremlin and defied all the odds, and once again I put this down to my über bike handling skills.  The bloke at Rossi saw my tyre before I even said anything and suggested that I might like to get a new one.  With the fall fast approaching and the likelihood of more wet riding, I opted for a set of Continental Contact 700 x 28C with some pretty darn good treads in them.  I am not sure how many litres a second of water they can move out of the way on a rainy day, but they’ll certainly be a far safer fall/early winter riding tyre.  I was also dead chuffed at the price: only $40 each.  I am used to paying double that and more for just one road tyre.

I rode the rest of the way home with a rather stupid grin on my face, now almost looking for sharp objects to ride over, and with my two new tyres slung over my shoulder à la Tour de France circa 1930.

Two new Continentals adorn my shoulder. Ah! The smell of rubber.



Filed under Cycling


Once more I was victim to the sound of air escaping from one of my tyres.  Well, I was not actually there to hear it, but when I got to the bike locker at work at around ten past five yesterday afternoon, the first thing I saw was the rear rim squarely on the ground.  Bugger!

I toyed with the idea of simply pumping the tyre and riding for as far as I could get, getting off, pumping again, then continuing, but really all I would be doing is delaying the inevitable.  So I knuckled down and set about changing the tube.

I had some company on and off as colleagues that I have never seen before came trooping through the garage to collect their bikes and head for home.  Most of them ignored me completely.  I suppose the sight of someone struggling with their rear wheel is an everyday occurrence that deserves no attention.  Silly me to think that asking if I needed help was simply a common courtesy.

There was one bloke who sparked up a conversation.  “Do yu ‘ave a spare toob?”  he asked with a very thick French accent.  I replied in French, thinking I was doing him a favour, that I had a tube, but thank you very much for asking.  He replied, once again in English, that he had had several punctures this season and so knew the frustration I was feeling upon discovering this at the end of a long work day.  The conversation continued in this vein, him speaking in very broken English and me replying in near perfect French, for about five minutes.  He then decided that he had to get home and left me to complete the task of squeezing the tube into the tyre and tim without ripping a new hole in it.

By five twenty I was on my way at last.  Annoyed at having to change the tube, but nonetheless quite pleased that with the practice I have been getting my time has come down considerably.  I did notice when tightening the wheel nuts that using an adjustable spanner vastly reduces the life span of said nuts by burring over the edges.  So, note to self, when I go to the hardware store pick up a real spanner the right size for the nut and also perhaps a couple of new nuts, you know, just in case.

Comparison of the out and return commute.


Filed under Cycling


Well, the rain finally took a brief hiatus allowing me to get the trusty Paddywagon out of the shed and back onto the road.  The past four days have been nothing but rain, totally awesome for the garden, not so awesome for riding.  In fact, I had to drive to work yesterday for the first time since February.  I was reminded, within the first six km, why I choose to pedal myself to work.  Sitting in traffic is a nightmare of frustration and completely unavoidable.

The author at six in the morning about to hit the road.

It was a perfect morning.  Slightly on the cool side perhaps, but other than that perfect.  Dry roads, almost, and clear sky with a slight tailwind that gently guided me on the 25 km all the way to the Campus.  I titled this entry ‘Waterfront’ because aside from the 700 metres from my house to the Lakeshore, I ride the entire way next to Lac St.Louis.  It is easier to picture it on the map of the commute just below, but it reminds me how bloody brilliant it is to live where I do.  So many people would kill to ride on these roads with these views, and I am fortunate enough to get to do it every day.  That being said, I have friends in Arizona and when I see them riding in January in short sleeves up these brilliant mountain roads, I too am envious.  We all want what we don’t have at some point or other.

The commute from home to Nun's Island

The day remained perfect for riding, something I could check on regularly as all I have to do is turn my head slightly while I am on the phone and I have a terrific view of all of downtown Montreal.  What I was not able to pick up on so well was that the wind had picked up, considerably in fact.  Not only had it picked up, but it had turned from SW to due W, which resulted in the return ride being into the wind every turn of the crank.  As I was recording today’s commute on MapMyRide+ I opted to go for the return trip home that goes along the canal.  Yes, another waterfront of sorts, although far less dramatic than the lake.  You do get to enjoy the view of the trendy and very expensive condos that line the canal as you go past downtown, but today I did not have any energy to sight see.  I was pedalling through syrup, at least that’s what it felt like, and with the added handicap of only the one gear plus a 30 lb back pack strapped to me, it felt as if I was advancing at a snail’s pace.  You want to know what cheered me up?  I thought of my buddy Bruce who has been riding around Japan with his wife the past week or so, and has been subjected to snow and rain and ice!  Oh, and of course wind, but after the previous three the wind hardly matters.  So thanks Bruce – you and Kaz have been an inspiration this week!

The icing on the cake reared its ugly head with about 12 km to go.  I started ‘hearing’ the front tyre.  You’ll know what I mean if you ride a lot.  You get familiar with the sound your tyres make on the tarmac.  So familiar that you don’t usually hear them.  But when the sound changes, you immediately dial into it.  I noticed a change.  Slightly louder and it had a ‘stickiness’ to the sound, as if a lot more rubber than should be was rolling over the pavement.  I glanced down already knowing what I was going to see.  As well as the change in phonics I could tell that the front end had become very soft.  Sure enough, my front tyre was deflating, but it was doing it quite slowly.  Would I make it home?

The return ride, north of the outgoing journey and following the canal

The answer to that is no.  I would not.  After feeling the tyre nearly slip right off the rim I decided that it would be prudent to stop and pump some air in.  This I did and within a few minutes I was back in the saddle again (cue Aerosmith) warily watching the status of the air in the tyre.  I managed to get within 4 km from home when I had to stop again as I was starting to feel the rim over the bumps.  This time, I had not done more than ten pumps of the little portable air pump I have when I heard a crack followed by a loud gush of air.  The valve had snapped clean off where it comes through the rim.  Was I pumping that hard?  I didn’t take the time to analyze the situation.  The sky was beginning to bruise and if I did not hurry and change the tube now I was going to be doing it in the rain.  Save for a stubborn moment when the tyre did the ‘I’ll unravel to the left as you try and hook me in on the right….try and catch me‘ routine, I was soon pumping up a fresh tube, this time with slightly less vigour, and eventually I was on my way once again.  By the time I rolled into the driveway I was decidedly relieved to be back.  The wind had been a real bastard and the subsequent puncture had sealed the deal.

I could not, however, remove the smile from my face.  After four days stuck indoors, it was just awesome to be back out again.  Ride safe.


Filed under Cycling