Saturday, March 6

Clever Bike School Instructors

Parking Lot Where the "Accident" Happened
Sometimes my commute starts to seem routine. I wonder about what in the heck is there left to write about on this blog about it. At such times, invariably something novel pops up. It's different than driving in to work. Driving, it seems that the novel things all involve some rice rocket finding a new way to turn my few remaining hairs gray (grey for Rantwick and Ham).

Anyway, yesterday, on the way home from work, I had an "accident." In a parking lot. Not the kind of parking lot that Rantwick's mom warned him about, but a parking lot where I actually detoured into just for the purpose of purchasing something. Specifically, a "tall, no room, bold if you have it" product from a major coffee purveyor. I'd enjoyed the hot beverage, and was departing, when the accident happened. Sssssss and suddenly the "A" part of the "ABC Quick Check" was departing from the norm.

Not to worry; as a proud and happy "Traffic 101" graduate, I'd just change the tube in that tire and I'd be on my way with virtually no delay at all. The barista leaned out the drivethrough window and waved. I gaily noted that it came with the territory. I looked at the tire and it appeared I'd picked up a nail or something. Those Contis are tough, but nails are more than they're designed to handle.
Bike Down!
Exhibiting the speed and dexterity of much practice over the years, I had the tire dismounted and the tube removed with a speed of a NASCAR mechanic. I reached into the bag to grab my spare tube, and, BY JINGO (or thoughts to that effect), this tube is totally WORTHLESS. It was at that moment that my instructor Richard's words came back to haunt me. "Presta is Besta." All the rest of the way home, I kept muttering, "That's for darn sure when you have a wheel drilled for a Presta valve and your spare tube has a Schrader valve!" You see, my spare looked like the picture below. I'm sorry, Richard. At least my patch kit worked. I've been lugging that spare tube around for months. Talk about useless weight.

Another note, for those that think motorists are unfeeling cads that are merely waiting to kill any cyclist in the vicinity:

While I was going through all of this, I received offers of help from three motorists that were departing from the neighboring bank drivethrough, including one from two guys with baseball caps in a white pickup. White pickups are sometimes viewed with suspicion by cyclists on the road. I don't know if any of these motorists had any clue about fixing bike tires, but I felt heartened by the offers all the same. Each of you gets a gold star. We all had some good, if mercifully short conversations. Civility is NOT dead. What's more, I also discovered an added shortcoming in my bike "tire fix" equipment. You cannot use an oak tree twig to puncture the top of a glue tube. Keys don't work, either. An SKS fender stay will ALMOST work, and I'm not sure the slightly smaller Planet Bike fender stay wouldn't. A loan of a pen from one of my favorite baristas did the trick. I said "pin," but "pen" works just as well. Actually, now that the glue tube has been punctured, I won't need to worry about that - instead, I'll just have to make sure the glue hasn't dried out from old age. Upon reflection, I'm not sure that the plug from a set of headphones wouldn't work, but I didn't think of that at the time (yes, Gail, I'm BAD, REALLY BAD).

Yes, Presta IS BESTA Than Schrader When Your Wheels Have Presta Holes
Spare Tube had a Worthless Schrader Valve!

Postscript: Feeling around the inside of the tire, it appeared the Kevlar composite layer has failed. What's more, the whole thing felt really thin and flimsy, and the tire casing was feeling a bit like thick paper. Rather than using a dollar bill, I used another patch on the inside of the tire casing. Perhaps my revised goal of making 6000 miles with these tires was optimistic, and my original 4000 mile life was more on the mark. I'm going shopping for new tires. 4250 miles is a respectable mileage. I think I'd regret running them until the cord actually showed through the rubber. My new tires will be the same as the old ones. Continental Grand Prix 4 Season. 28c width. GREAT tires! 3 cents per mile, but worth it in peace of mind. THESE TIRES ROCK! I noticed that Tracy Wilkinson also uses Contis. A post on his experiences over on Springfield Cyclist would be of great interest to at least one of his blog readers (hint hint).

18 comments:

Velouria said...

Oh, I was relieved to read that it was that kind of accident. At the start of the story I was picturing you attempting to cycle through the parking lot with a cup of coffee in one hand and getting distracted. BTW, mine is a tall white Americano misto.

Steve A said...

Accident - something one did not plan on. Collision, no further explanation needed. Whether a car is involved or not, it'd involve an abrubt stop. This event was an "accident."

I shall have to research that "misto" part. I like Americanos, though I find they have marginal extra yummy factor compared to drip coffee relative to price. FWIW, when I stop by coffee places on my bike, I invariably finish the beverage before leaving. The larger the beverage, the more the iPhone battery gets depleted before departure. Gadgets such as iPhones really DO come in handy at coffee stores, despite my disdain for cell phones in general.

I am traffic challenged enough that earphones with talk radio are about as far as I want to go. Serious music would be beyond my limits. Weather and traffic are ideal.

Eliot Landrum said...

I am a huge Americano fan. The best way (next to a french press) to get the freshest cup of strong, delicious coffee!

Steve A said...

What, on the other hand, is a "misto?"

Lizzylou said...

Hm, all of my glue tubes have had a puncture point on the opposing end of the cap, so that was never a problem. I've considered trying those 'self stick' patches, but for some reason I don't want to trust them.

Steve A said...

Self stick patch. Actually, while I didn't mention it, one of those also figure into the story. I may milk this for a second post! I got a new tire today so added photos can't be far behind...

Apertome said...

I tried the self-stick patches at one point. They didn't work for me, but then again that was before I really knew what I was doing when trying to patch a tire.

I'd say 4250 miles is quite respectable. I've heard great things about those tires from other sources, as well.

Steve A said...

I bought a replacement Conti today and ordered a second tire. Before I did, I innocently asked the mechanic how long the tire would last. He said "4000 miles." That mechanic has a high level of credibility with me after that statement. BTW, those tires never wore out until I dropped my pressure down a bit! The failure, however, did not appear to be tire pressure related in any way. We'll see if lower pressure on the new set leads to them lasting longer or shorter.

Patches and glue are a touchy subject at the moment. Another post will reveal why...

Steve A said...

Yes, I also bought a spare tube, complete with a PRESTA valve...

Ham said...

I'm sorry, what is a tire please? Is it something like a tyre, just not as strong?

The p*ncture fairy visits us all in the end. On one notable week not too long ago, five in three days. That's part because it's London, part because I roll on Continental Sport Contacts, excellent grip wet and dry, but you pay a penalty.

That was the biggest culture shock riding in Zurich - nobody carries a pump riding the streets because they are so clean.

Velouria said...

Misto = with a bit of hot milk added. I disagree about the taste of Americano vs drip, I much prefer the former.

What about an accident that does not involve collision? Say, a person is cycling while drinking coffee, loses their balance and goes flying off the bike?

Steve A said...

Ham, forgive me, too many Canucks around this blog. Rantwick took such strong exception to "Canadian Tyre" that I clean missed it this time. Take a look at the 4 Seasons. They give up little against performance tires while getting a surprising amount of anti-puncture armour. 4250 was the first flat I had that had anything to do with the tires.

Velouria, should the cyclist go flying off the bike due to inattention, I'd tend to call it a crash or fall, or I might (if I thought the traffic term Gestapo weren't being attentive) even call it an accident. It would be a collision if the inattentive cyclist ran into a light pole. I also like Americanos, but prefer to eschew the extra carbs and also to get the free registered card refills.

Principled Pragmatist said...

Thank you for noting the positive interactions you had with motorists - most bicyclists seem to mostly only complain about motorists.

Either way, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. To us, the occasional negative interactions in traffic are aberrant exceptions to the vast majority that are neutral or positive; to others negative interactions seem like the norm.

Ham said...

FWIW, I think the Sport Contacts are head and shoulders above others for grip, especially when you hit metal and paint in the wet. Maybe just because they acquire all manner of grit and cr@p embedded in the surface, I dunno.

Armadillos are pretty good, but loose out on speed and grip. Schwlbe Marathon Plus? You might as well strap a dead armadillo to your wheels, but you probably won't get a puncture.

Steve A said...

Conti 4 Season are FAR better for grip than Armadillos, especially in the wet. Much lighter, too. They are close to regular GP.

Steve A said...

PP, as I've noted before, the positive interactions outnumber the negative beteen 100 to 1 and 1000 to 1. That one does tend to get remembered a lot more by most cyclists. I periodically track the interactions to keep it in perspective. Sure, there's an occasional bad apple, but most people, even motorists, are really pretty darn nice if you give them even half a chance. But you already knew that. This comment is really meant for those that haven't really examined the details of their traffic interactions yet.

Velouria said...

> I also like Americanos, but prefer to eschew the extra carbs

You consider an inch of milk "carbs"? Madness!
I drink milk, but don't eat grains or sugar. Started that stuff up again due to the relative winter inactivity. It works.

I would love to learn how to cycle while (safely) holding a cup of coffee.

Steve A said...

Americano has more carbs than brew, even before you consider any milk products. An extra 3g according to the Starbucks website. BTW, heavy cream has less carbs than skim milk. Even the calorie count is closer than you'd imagine because you use less.

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