Thursday, January 17, 2013

Starting Off With A Flat

What greeted me yesterday in the garage at 630am.

I had a plan to go on a bike ride on Catalina Island for my birthday.  Catalina Express ferry service gives you a free round trip ticket on your birthday if you register online, saving the traveller $75 (not an insignificant amount).  Bringing a bike is an extra $3.50 each way (as opposed to renting one, pot-luck quality, on the island, for $50), so I registered online, told them I was bringing a bike, prepared my Camelback, water bottles, almonds, fresh organic plums and apples, sun screen, helmet and bike gloves the night before my trip.  Lacking complete foresight, I neglected to check the garage to make sure that my bike was in full working order.  Duh.

I last rode it 2 weeks ago with Dr Desert Flower in Aliso Canyon, and incorrectly assumed it would be fine.   The flat tire on the rear axel almost threw a wrench in my day's plans.   I scrambled to find the patch kits that my son had recommended, and inhaled some breakfast rapidly, before Dr Desert Flower suggested the obvious "didn't you buy spare inner tubes?"  Indeed I did!  Thorn resistant, 29 x 1.75 Arvenir tubes with Presta vales!
So I removed my first-ever Presta valve nut, drew the tread out of the rim, extracted the flat inner tube, and inserted the replacement.   Then, I tried, in complete futility to inflate the new tube.  I didn't play close enough attention to how my son had changed a flat on DDF's bike in December, and had a Schrader vale mentality, which is completely counter-productive to inflating a Presta valve.  BUt being an engineer, I figured it out after a little trial and error (I should have googled it here, but my hands were dirty and I didn't want to trash this brushed silver anodized aluminum Airbook's elegance).

Without too much trouble I found a very small but very tough small gauge wire that had penetrated the tread and punctured the OEM tube.  Pliers were required to extract the little wire.  I wanted to make sure to not just install a new tube that would immediately puncture from any lodged in debris.  I remounted the tire tread, double checked the Presta valve, and my confidence grew that the bike would be in good shape again soon.

Tube inflated, then I deflated it (as my dad always taught me as a kid, to 'get the kicks out first') then re-inflated it again.  Remounted the wheel back into the frame with surprising ease.  The Shimano de-railer  had good slack, the axle quick releases tightened back up without any issue.  I tested the brakes, all was well.  The 8:30am departure time from the house would not be missed!

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