Friday, April 07, 2006

Longest 1.5 miles ever.

So. I'm scheduled for a 2 hour ride today. It's not quite 50 degrees here, and windy as hell, so I'm bundled up in fleece, tights, windbreaking pants and jacket, the whole 9. It takes forever to get out the door and I feel like Ralphie's little brother in A Christmas Story when he's so bundled up he can hardly move. So I start out on my merry ride and get a whole 5 minutes into it when, while going left through a 4-way stop (and so there's always lots of road shrapnel around), I hear a POP behind me - my tire is flat. No big deal. I pull off the road, go way down into the ditch, and get comfortable in the grass. The sun is warm, I'm a bit sheltered from the wind, and I find the occasional flat tire useful, as it gives me a chance to practice.

So I take off my rear tire, and right away I notice a gaping tear, maybe 1/4" long, in my tire. Whatever happened was pretty significant to rip a hole in my tire. I take everything apart, and see a nice gaping wound in the tube as well. The tire could present a problem - if you have a hole in the tube, you can just patch it up or replace it, and you're good to go. A hole in the tire, though, means that when you put the fully inflated tube back in, you essentially have exactly what my hernia surgery was about in '05 (great analogy) - the innards of the tube will press against, and ultimately poke through the hole in the tire. But no mind - I have a trick! I learned this somewhere in my triathlon travels, and so took the $10 bill I have in my repair kit, folded it up, and put it inside the tire, over the tear. This way the gap is bridged, and the tube won't poke through. Brilliant! And so, quite proud of myself, I tend to the tube.

I have a spare tube in my kit and 2 small Carbon Dioxide cartridges - I attach these to a little device that lets me plug it onto the tube stem, and with the press of a button all the CO2 is expelled into the tire - so I don't have to sit with a time-taking hand-pump on the side of the road. After negotiating the tube back inside the tire, and everything back onto the wheel, I load up one CO2 cartridge into the tire...but it's not nearly enough, and I certainly can't continue my ride with this low of tire pressure. So I use up the other one...and it still doesn't feel like enough. My thought wasn't "Give me just enough to comfortably go the 1.5 miles back home", but I wanted to emulate a real race scenario, where this is what I'm dealt, and I need to deal and continue the mileage as planned. Happily, I do have a small hand pump always on my bike (except in short races, but after today I may re-evaluate that). So I attach that and start filling up, and all is well until POP. What the hell? I certainly didn't have enough pressure in there to over-inflate...turns out somehow the actual stem on the tire broke in half. What the hell am I supposed to do with that?

Cripes. Never fear! I have a patch-repair kit with me, so I return to the original tube and apply the patch to the gaping tear. I take apart the tire again, refresh the tire with the other patched tube (again sure to keep my $10 bill in place), and start inflating - with my CO2 used up, I'm relegated to only the hand pump. This kind of sucks because it takes precious time and energy, and at a certain point the pressure is so high that it gets hard to pump - and this happens at around 60psi, which is about half of what I like my tires at. So in a real-world scenario like this, I'd be significantly under-inflated, which would create more rolling resistance on the tire, and so slow me down. But, I do the best I can. Finally, 45 minutes later (this all took quite a bit of time to make happen - too much time, but I was patiently experimenting), the tire is back on the bike and I'm ready to roll. I get back on the roadside, clip in, start pedalling, and feel rumblerumblerumble - the tire somewhere lost air, and my efforts were for nothing. I suspect the integrity of the patch, but at this point I was out of options for the day - I have a plane to catch tonight and things to do, and spending more time on this flat tire was going to make my already shortened ride more futile. So, cringing, I sat out of the saddle, leaning as far forward as possible to keep weight off the rear wheel (to lessen the risk of bending the rim), and pedalled the mile back to my car. Longest 1.5 mile ride ever. I'll have to inspect the tube to see what the problem was, and why. Sigh.

Lessons learned: Might as well always carry a spare tire and 2 spare tubes with me - I usually just have 1 spare tube. I also need to figure out just how much PSI I can get out of one CO2 cartridge - they're much faster and more efficient than pumping, and if this happened during Ironman, spending 45 minutes dealing with this would be a major event, as would having half the PSI I should have in my tires. So I need to figure that out.

So, that's 2 hours on the bike I won't get back this week, which is a bummer for me. Next weekend is a 3 hour ride already, on the heels of the half marathon. Let's hope it's free of technical difficulties!


R. Jeffrey Davis said...

Dang! That totally sucks. I just wanted you to know that I really enjoy reading your posts. You are an inspiriation to me.

Todd said...

Damn Gina, when it rains, it pours!

Have a wonderful vacation in New Mexico!

Libor said...

Hey dude. If in a race, do the best you can w a pump but I always carry these presta to shrader valve attachments so that I can visit a gas station and have a fast fill.

It may come in handy for a race IF you pass a gas station. Stop attach and fill up. Sorry the time was so long to get going. Best of luck in the future.

Quest4Kona said...

Sorry about the tough ride...better days are yet to come...heck, we hit 70 degrees yesterday! Keep pluggin!

Quest4Kona said...

GOOD LUCK this Saturday Chris at the 1/2! Relax and have fun with'll do GREAT!

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,

I am sorry to hear about your ride. I have to say though that I am glad that this happened now, and this is why...

Because this is the time when you figure out what works and what to expect and what your options would be on race day. Things will end up going faster if they were to happen. Plus it might be the good ole "bad things happen now so that on race day it will be perfect!!!"

I love the booting of your tire with the 10$ bill. I remember a few years ago, a really awesome triathlete by the name of Jimmy Riccitello was telling a story about booting his tire with a 10$ bill and that he would forget about the bill and then the next time he went to change his tire he would find the money and be all excited :) hehehe. You are able to boot the tire with a power bar wrapper or some energy bar wrapper, so if you do not have money that would be an option.

How did the Marathon go? I know that you did awesome!!! I can't wait to hear about it :)!!



Anonymous said...

Hey I just wanted to add that it was a GREAT analogy :) !!! and that when I said Marathon, I forgot to add 1/2 in front of it, but either way I would love to know how it went...


xt4 said...

Wow, so great to get all the love upon my return! Thanks for the well wishes Derek - good luck to you next weekend at Trail Mix (and with your daughter...hope she's feeling better!); Great advice Libor, I'll totally look into that. Have you ever had to pull over in a race and use it? I bet that was an amusing site to drive past...I just posted a bunch of Ironman questions that maybe you'll have some insights on (Derek, you might find it useful, too, and check out Kathi's IMAZ report in the comments of another post...); RJD - welcome! Thanks for your kind words and for checking in - we've got a small and interesting group of regulars around here, so here's hoping you'll remain one!

Thanks one and all for everything - seriously, it's so cool and important to me that you're all along for the ride, offering advice and encouragement and insights. You're part of the Ironman team, and I'm grateful and happy to have you on board.