Friday, January 24, 2014

Lessons from the groupeto - the puncture

There are hundreds of unwritten rules to the road and unfortunately some of the most important and fundamental ones are no longer being passed on to folks via word of mouth. As a teenager, I relied upon these simple yet crucial lessons that were offered up to me by my elders and I accepted them as gospel to gain the confidence of the group. You can only learn so much from a magazine or inter-web, its all about hands on experience. Velominati has established a fun set of rules here, but I want to get back to the basics and share what was passed on to me from some of California's finest pedal pushers

The puncture

  • To avoid most flats, always ride Continental 4 season 25c tires. They ride like garden hoses, but they rarely puncture. Do this unless you get paid to ride your bike.
  • On planned group rides, always carry 2 tubes with appropriate length valves and a patch kit of your choice. (glue or sticky)
  • When you realize you have a flat, calmly announce it to the group
  • Once a puncture is determined, everyone in the group immediately inspects both tires. There is nothing worse than a clueless bystander with a slow leak aka 'late for dinner'.
  • He or she with the puncture identifies a logical location in which the repairs are to take place, then confidently states,"front", "back" or the dreaded "both". This will allow for the rest of the group to judge how long they might be waiting for the repair (don't worry, this happens to all of us)
  • In the interest of time, someone in the group, typically a veteran with a working knowledge of different group sets will secure the bike, place the chain in the smallest cog, loosen the appropriate brake levers, and settle in for a few minutes of holding the bike (this is honorable). Balancing the saddle on your bars is a pro move and under no circumstance will the bicycle ever be placed upside down aka 'the inverted train wreck'.
  • The rider with the flat always provides and prepares the new tube using lung power. The punctured tube is to be immediately quarantined and passed on to one of the green horns on the ride to be rolled up with the stem on the outside indicating a blown tube. This will ensure that the tubes do not get mixed up aka 'tube vertigo'. Green horn identification is easy - they are on their "smart" phone checking FB not stretching the legs or helping out. 
  • Someone else in the group with strong hands will then remove the wheel in question from the frame, unhook one side of the tire bead from the rim, remove the tube, note the orientation of the tube in relationship to the rim (this should always be placed in which the valve stem lines up with the main tire moniker) the reason for this allows for a quick inspection of the tire once the location of the hole in the tube is identified. There is nothing worse than a secondary blow out from an overlooked sidewall cut aka 'peek a boo'
  • The inspector will then announce one of the following tire reports "all clear", "boot required", or "you're done"
  • The person with the flat properly inserts the tube ensuring the tire moniker is lined up perfectly. Once the tire is seated back on the rim, double checking for tube exposure is absolutely crucial.
  • The person with the flat should be gathering and stowing all tube related paraphernalia while someone else initiates the tire inflation. This is to be done slowly and methodically stopping periodically for inspection. 
  • Never use Co2 unless you have 3% BMI, otherwise lose the .25lbs of fat and carry a pump. If riding with cycling legends like Craig & Harry always place the wheel on first prior to pumping up - they claim that if done properly not only is this quicker but it happens to be ergonomically superior. You don't want them to ask you if you need a football while you're "wrestling" your wheel. If you're up for the challenge you can go for the Kluck method -straight arm pump operation ensuring valve preservation aka 'the straight arm'.
  • Once properly inflated always ask Doug E. Fresh for a pressure check. We have documentation that he can pinch read tire pressure within 2 bars. 

For the record:
Keep in mind that this nuanced cycling tradition should take 3 mins 40 seconds for a front tire, 4.5 mins for rear and 7 mins for both. If you puncture on a solo boogie - find a stable mailbox or fence post and start your stopwatch. For tubeless punctures pack some latex glooves and advil.

For you folks sporting tubeless go here to view our handsome friends at Easton. They have captured the essence of simplicity with this super clean video. Ladies keep your eyes on the wheel...

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