Friday, May 27, 2011

Of earthquakes and bikes

If there's a silver lining to the cloud of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, this might be it: more people are riding bikes there. What disaster will it take for us in this country to park our SUVs and make bike lanes?:

Naked bike ride

The headline proclaims "The 40 Best Pictures From The World Naked Bike Ride ‘09 (NSFW)." Personally, I'm skeptical. Looks like the choices were made in order to render the collection, if not not NSFW, then at least a little closer to being SFW than if it really had the best photos of naked and not-quite-naked people on bikes. You decide:

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Alive! Or Ten Miles and a Six (er, er, What Comes After Six?)-Pack Later

Or, actually, It works!

A follow-up on the how-to-fix-a-flat-when-you-don't-have-anything-to-fix-a-flat-with stuff: Not only did the knot in the tube get me home the day before yesterday, but, two days later and no air added, it still has enough air to ride. This knot-in-the-leaky-tube thing is too cool to be true.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stranded's (Not Very) Big Ride, or How To Fix a Flat When You Don't Have Anything To Fix a Flat With

I went out early this morning, about 9:00 (which is early for me, on a Saturday, anyway; normally at that time I'm still trying to figure out whose underwear I have on, if I happen to have any on. But that's a story for another time.) I aspired to another 50-miler, but after 20 miles or so, I had a flat. The back one, of course. No problem--like any well-prepared cyclist, I put in a new tube, after having checked the tire for whatever may have caused the puncture. I found nothing and assumed that whatever caused the puncture had come and gone. An erroneous conclusion, it turned out.

Five miles or so later, again came the sickening feeling of a mushy back tire. I pumped the tire up, went a quarter of a mile, pumped the tire up again, went another quarter of a mile, and realized all hope that the problem was a loose valve or some such easily fixed problem was in vain.

I didn't have another tube. I didn't have any patches. I didn't even have any of that disgusting slime stuff that never works, and anyhow, how do you get it into a Presta valve? Did I just claim I was a well-prepared cyclist?

The options didn't look attractive. Call for help? Unthinkable! Stuff the tire with grass? That's gotta take forever, and be a mushy ride into the bargain. Ride flat and ruin my tire, not to mention the wheel? No.

Once upon a time, I read an article in Bicycling magazine that said a last resort is to cut the tube in two at the site of the leak, tie a knot in both ends, air it up, and ride. At the time, it sounded kinda bogus--I mean, come on, a knot? How much air can that hold? And of course, I had no knife, but I did find the sliver of gravel that caused the leak by doing what I should have done the first time: I aired up the tube sans tire, spotted the leak, and knew exactly where to look in the tire. Sure enough, an almost microscopic bit of limestone, ready to ruin tubes I didn't have all day.

So I tied a very tight knot in the intact tube, with the leaky spot outside the loop, aired it up, and rode. Amazingly enough, it worked. A bit of a bumpy ride when the knot came round, but it sure beat the alternatives. I made it home, and managed to get 35 miles in. Not a bad ride.