I’m having quite an exciting week when it comes to cycling: First I get ripped off with a rattling gearbox, then my brand new bike gets stolen, and yesterday my front tyre blew out on me unexpectedly!
I was on my way home from MTV, riding up to Finsbury Park, when I heard a loud “pop” noise followed by a fairly loud and distinct “Pffffffff….” – the tyre was empty in about 10 seconds flat (see what I did there…?). What surprises me is that this came out of nowhere: no curbs, no potholes and I’ve even checked my tyres for debris and glass before I left.
Time for some serous investigating!
Since I’ve just had a bike stolen earlier this week, I didn’t want to take a chance and leave it at Finsbury Park overnight. Good timing too, because this was the one day I did not take my rucksack with goodies such as a pump and patches with me. Excellent! As Nicola said, the bike gods are not looking favourable upon me it seems.
Thanks to the quick release I could take the front wheel off, locked on the bike and wandered home – tyre and water bottle in hand. Not a problem on a sunny evening like this. I met a nice Nicaraguan gentlemen with a screaming child on my way who happened to be my neighbour, so I even had some nice company. It rarely happens in London that you just talk to someone you don’t know. Very nice!
At home I thoroughly checked the tyre for holes or punctures. Nothing. That’s suspicious.
I took the tube out and checked it: a huge hole on the INSIDE next to the valve was the culprit. But how? It’s protected by the rim, which was also smooth and clean. The size of that hole was huge too – directly on a rubber seam so very hard to fix if fixable at all. I tried it anyway.
While waiting for the rubber cement to harden I read what else it said on the tube. “Made in China”, that’s always promising, as well as “suitable for 26″ tyres / 1.75 to 2.1”. Wait a minute… my tyres are 26×2.35″ – they’re balloon bike tyres much WIDER than this tube is made for!
Let’s see here… (cut to flashback effect)
I remember having a slow puncture about 6 months ago. We were doing Milkshake at MTV one Wednesday, we finished early, it was raining heavily. I didn’t have patches or a pump, but Daniel lent me his kit and I tried to fix the tyre in pouring rain. Didn’t work, because I overlooked a piece of glass that was still stuck in the tyre – so I gave up and went round the corner from MTV to an independent bike shop on Kentish Town Road called Chamberlaine Cycles. Yes, I remember now… THEY put the tube in… THEY did… and they charged me £14 for it too!
(cut back to reality – with me holding the tube in my hands)
I’ve been RIPPED OFF even before I knew it! My unlucky bike streak started six months ago! It’s a miracle that the tube held on for that long without popping earlier. Chamberlaine is another shop that goes on the Bike Shop Hall of Shame then. I remember that arrogant French Git in the shop too, who laughed at me when I asked him for disc brake cleaner. What a humiliating experience!
Should I go back and demand my money back, or at least a free tube that FITS my bike?
They’ll just laugh me out the shop. Have I got proof? I’m sure I could find the receipt. But then, I could have changed the tube many times over since. They’ll just say it’s wear and tear, or tell me “that tube is TOTALLY FINE for your tyres” while laughing behind my back. They’re all part of the Anti-Jay club, I know that type. I’d rather do nothing and get a little bit more depressed instead. I’m pretty good at that.
So anyway, I take that “now fixed” tyre and my pump and my rucksack and my lights with me, back to where I left the bike. Part of me was thinking that since this is undoubtedly my lucky week, my pink bike is probably not there anymore either. I had left it close to the Auld Triangle pub on the other side of the road. My face brightened up when I saw it still locked tight to that lamp post. Phew!
I fixed the tyre back to the bike, pumped up a little more air, and a little more, and a tiny bit more… when the patch blew again. “Pfffffffffff…..”
Trouble is that without any air in the tyre, I couldn’t even push my bike back home because the tyres were just flapping all over the place, coming off the rim and allsorts. I managed to half carry it to a more illuminated place at the dedicated brand new Finsbury Cycle Park. We’re talking 9pm here so it’s getting dark, and I could do with a bit of light. And quietness. The last thing I need is the attention from some lowlife trying to join me.
I ripped of that patch and tried again… not having eaten since lunchtime and running that little bit low on patience. It worked, and I decided to be really gentle with the air this time – I had already made up my mind that as long as it’s enough air to push my bike home I’ll be OK. I wouldn’t risk cycling back home (plus I still have ear ache from that rattling screwed up Sturmey Archer gearbox which apparnelty sounds so “perfectly normal” that I’m seriously considering some friggin ear plugs… NURSE, I NEED MY MEDICATION!!!)
I made it home for about 10pm for a cold beer and some beans on toast. What a life I lead!
On this note, I’ve decided that moping around isn’t going to to me any good, so I’ve ordered a BRAND NEW Scott Sub 30 Solution from Evans earlier today. Same one as before (aka “The Crime Victim”). Should be here in time for the weekend and ready for a trip to Chiswick on Sunday – when I’m sure I’ll have more tales to tell.