Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Back in September, I got a flat. It was the kind of freaky road trophy that would have decimated the heartiest of anti-flat methods, kind of like this except it missed my rim. Otherwise, these tires went 3,000 miles before wearing thin and needing replacement due to normal wear. I've never, ever flatted my knobby tires. Ever. Only the occasional slow leak and worn-through stem, all of which held enough air to get me where I was going without riding on the rim or stopping to air up every 2 miles. Gone are the Forte Slick Cities (with Hybridzilla, where'er she may be) and the Budweiser Bontrager Select (cream of the crap), the only tires I ever flatted repeatedly.

It is for this reason that I'm re-evaluating things, at least for the winter. I've been using my Trek Sideloader wedge as a camera case lately because the CatEye handlebar-mounted light makes my previous camera-toting method impossible. I keep a spare tire, levers and patches in the back of the Sideloader, but the rest of my "stuff" goes in my drive-side pannier. "What stuff," you may ask?

  • Park Tool MTB-3 Rescue Tool
  • GI Ultraflate 2
  • 3 spare cartridges for it
  • Blackburn MTN Air
  • Cable Lock (for quick in-and-out lock-ups)
Why keep a hand-pump and CO2? This time of year, I swap bikes on a whim. One CO2 cartridge won't even put a dent in my 1.95" Knobbies. The hand pump will only get my road tires up to about 80 PSI -- and the last 20 pumps are arduous to impossible! Given my recent track record, though, I'm left wondering why I even bother carrying any spare tubes or inflation devices to begin with. In the last half of '08, though, I think I used CO2 3 times for myself (once just to add pressure to The Goat so it was easier to ride the full commute), and probably 10 times helping others.

Furthermore, I haven't had a mechanical failure en-route that couldn't wait until I got home or to work. Again, most of the times I've used the multi-tool in the last 6 months, it's been to help others get back on the road. I've only seen a handfull of riders since winter weather really set in, and they all looked just as prepared, if not moreso than I.

I'm leaving the CO2 and multi-tool in my desk from now on, at least until "bicycle season" (heh) is back. I have a full set of tools and a floor pump at home. I'll keep the Blackburn pump in the pannier because it switches between presta and schrader with ease, and I can limp home on The Twelve with 80 PSI if I really have to. I am not a weight weenie, but it's amazing how much lighter my pannier feels holding only a cable lock and hand pump.

When the days start getting longer, I'll go back to running with only one headlight and have the ability to mount the camera on the stem again. I'll have room in the Sideloader for the stuff I'm leaving behind. Then, I'll be ready when the helpless cyclists re-appear.

And no comments on the woes of CO2. I've heard them all before, and I do not want to go buy an expensive Road Morph or frame pump. This works well for me (and for those whom I've helped) when needed. I just haven't needed it in a while.


Darius said...

You realize that you have doomed yourself to some sort of hellish mechanical saga in the next few rides, just by saying this? Like "I never flat" or "it's not gonna rain".

wardy said...

Tools, tube, and a pump are like insurance for your bike. You carry them so that you won't need to use them (with the added benefit of helping others from time to time). I drove my car regularly for about 15 years and was never in an accident. Yet I always had insurance - just in case. Same deal.

Noah said...

Well, the southernmost six-miles of my route is actually close enough to hike to catch a bus, all of which run during my normal commute. The same goes for the northernmost 2 miles.

That does leave a six-and-a-half mile no-man's-land in the middle (between Southwest & 25th and Southwest & Lamar/Foxridge) Worst-case: I have to walk three miles one way or the other to catch a bus.

I may have jinx'd myself, but hey, I still carry my phone and have a loving wife who doesn't mind rescuing me...

Honey? Isn't that right?


Gah. I guess I'll walk.

Darius said...

You realize that you have doomed yourself to some sort of hellish mechanical saga in the next few rides, just by saying this? Like "I never flat" or "it's not gonna rain".

Darius said...

sorry for the double post.... I'm sure it was user error somewhere.

Chuong Doan said...

Dude just pack a floor pump. I think you can get a lightweight carbon fiber one. Screw those little minis unless you like working out your biceps everytime you get a flat.

Me, I have my wife follow me with a couple spare bikes on the roof of the Outback to work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Noah, It's not so much that I can manage a bike failure in winter by walking, hitchhiking, getting to the's more that there is no way I am going to spend any amount of time doing a roadside repair in temperatures that are well into negative territory. Ever drop a tool into 8 inches of snow because of freezing fingers? I am even prepared to lock my bike in the middle of nowhere and retrieve it later for warm indoor repairs.

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