Friday, August 10, 2012

Four Flats in Three Days: Perhaps the Universe Wants me Off My Bicycle?

We have all been there... out with some friends, doing a training ride, or just transporting ourselves in to work. You look down because something just "feels funny," and you realize that air pressure is dwindling in your tire. It could've been glass shards on the road, a random nail or screw that you just didn't notice, or a sticker/goat head that just managed to find its way into your tire. It's that moment of realization that you have no choice but to stop and attempt to patch the flat.
Today's flat - flat tire #4 in 3 days
Unfortunately for me, this was my third and fourth flat in a matter of three days. {sigh} As I was rolling up to my morning kickboxing class, I noticed that there was a goat head sticking out of my front tire. I muttered a curse under my breath and figured I'd deal with it after class. "Hopefully, if I leave it in, I can at least make it home," I thought as I went to lock up the bike. Just as I finished the thought, the sound of rushing air filled the silence. Another obscenity came rushing out of my mouth (I have been known to curse like a sailor when the timing is right). "Seriously?!" I said aloud. I got close to the goat head, expecting that, of course, it was coming out of this spot. But, as my head got closer to the area, the pssshhhhh sound seemed somehow farther away. "Weird," I thought, "It almost sounds like it's coming out of the rear tire."

I thought nothing of it and went in to class, ready to kick some butt. We finished up and I went out to check on the bike, assuming that I'd probably need to put a bit of air in the front tire to make it the slightly more than 2 miles home. I squeezed the front tire, and while it had lost some air, it seemed as though it would be okay to get home. I went to grab the pump out of my saddlebag and realized that there was another goat head in the rear tire, and that the tire was completely flat. "Well, at least my senses are working, and it was in fact the back tire I was hearing," I proclaimed to no one as a big sigh came out.

My attempt at putting air in the tires was futile. As soon as I pumped them up, the air came rushing back out. I knew that I'd either have to pull both wheels off, both tires, and patch the tubes, or just walk the bike home. As I started calculating, I figured it would take me about 30-40 minutes to patch both of the tubes, assuming that nothing went wrong (Yes, I am slow- but hey, at least I considered patching them), or I could walk home in about that same amount of time and not deal with the glaring sun and heat on me. I opted for the latter choice. I have to say, I probably should've just patched the tubes, as it really isn't fun walking in these summer temperatures.

Apparently, the universe is trying to tell me something. These two flats are in a series that have taken place entirely too close together, and I'm beginning to think that either 1) I need to stay off of a bicycle for awhile, or 2) I need to consider different tires with a bit more protection. Each of the flats has been due to goat heads, and while I love the Grand Bois Hetre tires, I simply cannot deal with having a flat every single day. While it is the season for these little buggers here in Colorado, I'm not sure I can endure another month or two of this taking place on a daily basis.

Have you found yourself with more flats as summer starts to fade, or are you also spending more on Super Patch kits than just picking up a more thorn-resistent set of tires?

18 comments:

  1. JHC. We will line them with steel, this is too much, it's piercing like butter.

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  2. Better option, 2nd set of wheels with "goathead season" tires, and just swap them. It would cost less in the end, than new GB tires, or the constant patching??

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    1. I think it may be time to give up the Grand Bois'... as much as I don't want to. The tube patching on a daily basis is getting old, and I definitely cannot have this happening daily through October. Plus, if I put smaller tires on, I can have my fenders back... Yay!! :O) I know, your least favorite chore... the Hillborne and fenders.

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  3. We have nasty thorns in these parts which I occasionally find embedded in my sneakers and I am so grateful that I haven't had to patch or change a flat tire because of them. To be honest, I've yet to get a bike flat while in the wild (I'm knocking the wood coffee table frantically as I type this, by the way...). Four flats in less than as many days would definitely put me off bicycling. D:

    Good luck with finding some puncture resistant tires. My plan is to stash away some Armadillos so the bikes will be ready for the zombie apocalypse. ;)

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    1. Yes, I would be grateful if they only showed up in my shoes as well. Sadly, they just keep finding my tires. :O( I don't wish the flats on anyone. While it's a relatively easy thing to repair, it's such a pain to have to flip the bike over on the side of the road and attempt to find a tiny pin hole and then put it all back together.

      Sam is actually presently mounting my Schwalbe Marathons (I had bought them when I first got the Hillborne and they've pretty much just sat around). At least I know that they have better protection, so hopefully I can make it through a few days without a flat. :O) We'll see what happens from there.

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  4. I have never heard of a goat head. I always learn something new when I come here. :D

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    1. Cecily, I'd never heard of them either until moving to Colorado, but man, do they stick in the tires! I guess they're in other parts of the U.S. too, but I wouldn't wish them on anyone.

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  5. Bummer. I have never gotten a flat on any of my three bikes - they all have Schwalbe tires. That is nearly four years with no flats. (Knock on wood!) And I roll over lots of glass and all kinds of stuff on Chicago' streets. On my first bike with the manufacturer's tires, I got so many flats in one summer.

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    1. It is a bummer! I have had excellent luck with Schwalbe's in the past too... so, that may be what I end up using to avoid this problem down the line.

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  6. I was obsessing over bike builds late last night (subject of a forthcoming post) and came across this on the Soma blog. Maybe it'll be helpful?

    http://www.somafab.blogspot.ca/2012/02/adorable-seal-trounces-evil-goats.html

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    1. Ooooh, I like it! Thank you so much for the link, Cecily! Can't wait to read about your bike build ideas. :O)

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  7. OK, this may be heresy to bike-heads, bit just get to be friends with Jery at Greenway bikes. He rocks. I take all my flats to him. I like to ride, not change tubes, and with 6+ bikes in the herd, we always have a flat somewhere. Oh, and congrats on that new cool orange bike. I want one. ---- blake (Old Town Outfitters)

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    1. Now, if only I could get on-site service, it would be perfect! I'm thinking, something like Domino's... "We'll patch your tube in under 30 minutes, or it's free" kind of deal? Someone must be game for that sort of service I would think. :O)

      Thanks much, Blake!

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  8. I realize this is a post on an old thread. Panaracer makes a product called flat away felt. It is a pure Kevlar felted strip that adheres to the inside of the tire. I have yet to find some thing poke through it. It is Kevlar, a fiber with incredible coefficient of friction stopping puncture progress. It is also a felt which means a randomized and tangled mess laid out to a consistent thickness. This means there is many fibers any puncture would have to pass by, there are no holes in the weave which means no pass through punctures. The down side is that Kevlar can chafe a tube over time. This means you should change your tube on e a year. To me this is a huge non issue considering I overhaul my hubs at that interval at least.

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    1. Thank you for the information. Even though it's a slightly dated post, I know that I'm not the only one who gets flats with certain tires, so I appreciate the info (and hopefully others will as well).

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  9. I had the same problem as you since I live in SoCal. I ended up switching over to tubeless wheels and have been running my Hetres without tubes and plenty of Stan's sealant. IT WORKS. No joke, I ran over a patch of goat heads, picked out about 10-12 from each tire, and they both still held plenty of air. I've found a few goat heads in my tires over the last few weeks (they always sound like a rock stuck in the tread) and all I've had to do is pick them out and continue riding. I've also had some success with Hetres coupled with slimed tubes, but I think tubeless is ultimately the way to go.

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    1. Good to know. I have read that others have gone this route, but I've been hesitant to actually go for it and get the kit to convert. As we approach the really bad season here in the next few weeks, this is a good reminder and may be something to look into. Thanks!

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  10. Try filling the tires with Slime, or putting an Slime kevlar band

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