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Wheels on the bike go round and round 22: Flat Tires
by Mike Jennett
2009-07-17 06:49:06
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Tracy proclaimed that four minutes is all it takes to deal with a flat tire.

That minimalist period probably assumes all tools are ready to hand, that the unfortunate flatee replaces the tube instead of patching it and uses a CO2 injector for inflation.

I can do it in eight to ten, hiding from assistance – even well-meaning help will take longer. That includes locating the puncture, gluing, patching, pressing, cleaning the tire and manually inflating with a frame pump. It’s not hard to judge the pressure with a thumb and be less than 15 PSI out.

CO2 injectors? Don’t make me sneer. If this were Star Trek and the CO2 injector was the transporter, I would be Doctor McCoy.

Injectors are despicable inventions and reduce the ability of the user, much like continually driving an automatic car destroys your ability to drive. True, you can inflate the tire in a nanosecond and be on your way. You can also, if the tube is pinched, burst it and be back to square one.

Every flat requires a full cartridge – how many can you carry? What about when you run out? Can you actually get more? Is there a shop within walking distance? In the desert? They’re not free, so every flat costs money. If you’re a tube replacer rather than a patcher, that can make your desert crossing expensive.

I always patch a tube unless it’s too damaged. If it’s raining then I’ll replace it and mend it later in the dry. The additional time it takes to find a puncture and mend it, even on the side of the road, is negligible.

I don’t like to generalize, but it’s a fact that Americans will simply discard a perfectly good inner tube that has been punctured and insert a new one. It’s just another facet of the built-in-obsolescence economy that appeared after the 1970’s.

I find myself in company with a number of riders incapable of dealing with a flat, regardless of the operation’s extent. When one occurs, often several people cluster around the unfortunate flatee like a pit crew to all assist in some way. Help is nice, but survival skills must be individual.

How someone can proclaim themselves worthy to ride more than three thousand miles across a continent but be unable to perform the most basic of bicycle repairs? Of all the things that can occur on a bike ride, especially a long one, punctures are the most likely – and the most frequent.

It is often the women who deserve this criticism the most as they’ve allowed themselves to become accustomed to a male doing it for them. What happens when they’re alone? What happened to female liberation? Does that disappear when dirty work is involved? A cross country ride is not a gentle Sunday afternoon’s ride along the cycle path.

So – now you have my opinion on flats – and the people who can’t fix them…

Read more at: www.mikeonwheels.com OR www.wheelsonthebikegoroundandround.blogspot.com     

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