Skip to main content

The world is not (a) flat (tire).

Years ago, I once remarked that a (then) recent spate of flat tires on my bike was remarkable. My feeling was it was beyond odd that I'd be getting so many flat tires in such a short time. My friend Charlie responded that he viewed it as perfectly normal and expected. To him, getting flat tires at more evenly distributed times would be far more remarkable. I must admit that this perspective still leaves me scratching my head. All I know is that I am something less than overjoyed when ever I get a flat, be it the first or the Nth in a string. Flat tires, if you'll permit my slipping into vernacular, suck.

Let me, for emphasis, repeat that. Flat tires suck. They are certain to suck the life out of the moment, out of your momentum, and they can suck the life right out of your ride. How can I be so sure? Well, not that I really needed confirmation of this, but I've had more than what I consider my fair share of flats recently, and I've had them on three different bikes ridden in three different locations in three different circumstances: dry conditions on a commute, wet conditions on a commute using a different route, wet conditions on a brevet, and dry conditions on an entirely different brevet and route. The flats on the brevets have really taken the steam out of those rides, and changing a flat in the rain is only adding insult to injury.

The bad run of flat tires has taken me on a bumpy and circuitous emotional route. I was a bit grumpy but resigned to the reality when I first started getting the flat tires on my commute. Given the route the odds are in favor of getting a flat at some point, and frankly it has been a while. After several of those though, the flat tires on the first brevet really hit me hard. I was already late when I had the first flat, and having to change a totally grimy tire in the rain was hard to take. In short, I was pissed. By the time of the second flat, things had changed and I was back to simply being resigned to the reality of it all. Having caught up to several riders and having had the chance to ride along, chat, eat, etc. made a big difference.

Another flat on a commute had the sting taken out of it by the knowledge that the recent rainy weather had ended, and taking the long way to work always gives me a bit of a lift. On the most recent brevet, the Santa Rosa 200km, I had not one but two flats before the first control, which comes early at mile 10. By this time, I was hardly phased by the second flat, and just set about changing it out and getting back on the road. I had lost 25 minutes very early in the ride so I had little hope of catching anyone. A flat, or even two late in the ride is quite different in that there are always riders behind that you can ride with after fixing your flat. Get one at mile 10 of a 125 mile ride, and there is no choice but to chase, and chase solo.

It will of course tempt fate, but I think my string of flats is ending. So is the rainy season, the end of which is a bit early but not impossibly early. I managed to commute for over a week without a flat, and I got through an entire 200km permanent without flatting as well. We'll see what gives this weekend on the SFR 400km.


Ciclista said…
I had my spate of flats at the end of last year and through the first brevet of the season. I had two flats on that brevet (one in rear and one in front tire.) Since that January brevet, I have had (knock on wood) no flats. The rain really does bring out all the crap back on the road.

BTW, I completed my first 400K on 3/13. 20:50 hrs. Not bad. So, I will not be riding with SFR this weekend as I had originally thought I would. I still plan to ride the Night time brevet in June with you guys, though.
rob hawks said…
Hi Jaime,

Hey, congrats on your first 400km. Many riders feel that is the hardest distance. Our 400km is of course saturday. When you come up in June for the Overnight Brevet, bring some fellow SD randonneurs!
Joe B said…
Same things happens to me. A bunch of flats all at once. Usually, it's a result of worn out tires. Occasionally, it's a flat-producer that I've failed to find and remove. Even multiple bikes' flats have been explained this way.

Best of luck on your 400K!
DR Codfish said…
Well sure, you knew I’d have something to say. I’ll just have to sort out what stays and what goes or my ‘comment’ will eclipse your post.

That ‘fix a flat by the side of the road in cold rain…” I try to think of that as character building, after all I did go for a bike ride in cold rain. Most times that works, but sometimes rage and despair fight for the reigns.

I’m not sure if flats do come in flocks (bevies, herds, squadrons?) or if it just seems that way. It seems that way to me in the recent past (few years). When I was younger and cheaper, my tires were cheaper and they seemed to get flats at more evenly spaced intervals. I think the difference now is that it takes the ‘end of life of tires’ or a bad stretch of road/weather to bring the flock in. Remember, your glass is only half full of flats.

Yr Pal Dr C

Popular posts from this blog

Cycling mileage spreadsheet (using google docs)

Several years back I was looking for a good way to keep track of my annual cycling mileage and a little Googling resulted in finding this website and it's link to a downloadabe Excel spreadsheet for keeping track of cycling mileage. Mark Pankin, who created that Excel doc annually updates the document and makes it available to the public. I think the document is great and I've used it for several years. One issue I did have with it though was gaining access to the document remotely. I kept it on my computer at home but sometimes I wanted to update it when I was not at home or just pull data from it, again when I wasn't at home. I had had some email exchanges with Mark to ask about certain features of his document and this led to a discussion about porting the document over to Google Docs. Mark was not a Google Docs user but he didn't mind at all if I created a document using his Excel spreadsheet as a model. While there is some ability to import and export Excel format

The fourth time is a charm? PBP 2019 part 1

"I'm cured!". This was a posting I made within hours of having finished Paris, Brest, Paris 2015, hinting that it would be my last PBP. BS was officially called within seconds of that post hitting the interwebs, and this was not the first time that I was wrong (nor I suspect the last time I will be wrong). It is impossible to separate my experiences of riding PBP 2019 from any of those of past editions and the reader will have to forgive those moments of personal context that will follow below. Chartres Cathedral For the number of roadblocks I faced during the four year run-up to PBP 2019, as things transpired I led a somewhat charmed life once landing in France this past August. On the day before my flight, I received an email from Ed Felker inviting me to join Mary and him on a shake down ride out to Chartres. I had heard Craig Robertson describe the sight of the cathedral up on it's hill as he and Lori Cherry approached by bike from the west on a pre-PBP

The fourth time is a charm?, PBP 2019 part 4

Just one left to fill Unlike the fog that descended on the landscape overnight on Monday, the fog forming on Thursday morning was mental. But the chill was real. One downside to leaving Mortagne is that so much of the early terrain is down hill, and the coldest part of night was taking hold on that terrain for both the 84 hour riders and many if not most of the 90 hour riders. In the dark, it seemed that so few riders had gotten on the road, but as the kilometers clicked off the frequency of passing riders increased and packs were again forming, and as the sky lightened there was again a steady stream of red tail lights ahead. Foggy headed and chilled by early morning air that was nudging 40F, many riders reacted with indecision when navigational decisions were to be made and a simple left turn on the route that wasn't within a village caught 95% of the riders and large groups would have to navigate a u-turn amid the chaotic scene. At long last, the undulating landscape smo