Thursday, July 29, 2010

Feeling Flat?

There are many events that happen in life that connects us all. Events like, locking your keys in the car, burning dinner, saying something you regret when you are intoxicated (maybe more than once), having your zipper down when walking out of a public restroom. All these things most people can say, “Oh, I have done that,” and then a subsequent story ensues.

As a cyclist, or triathlete, one thing we all seem to stumble on from time to time is getting a flat on a ride. Some of these unfortunate events happen when you are close to home, and simply require a quick and easy change. Other times, they require a phone call…assuming you are in cellular range. But on occasion you are faced with a unique challenge that you wonder if there is a solution to.

One such challenge I have been faced with from time to time is when the puncture size is so large, that the tube will actually come out of the tire upon inflation. These can happen on the “tread” of the tire (part that touches the road) or on the sidewall (part that does no touch the road where all the tire information is). If you do not notice this, after you install a new tube and inflate it to 80-100psi, the tube can come out immediately, like a kid blowing a bubble, and explode. Though it makes one hell of a sound, it will still cost you the price of a tube (about $4-$5). One expensive firecracker.

A couple weeks ago, I, once again, experienced such an event. I was riding with Jessi as she was conquering her ascent of Mt. Spokane, and to my fortune, I flatted near the base. As I waved her on and told her to go one without me (between the rapid panting) she continued up the climb and I allowed my wheel, with the deflated tired and tube, rumble to a stop. Upon my inspection of the tire, I saw that there was a pretty big slit in the tire that went through the casing as well (meaning the slit went all the way through to the tube). Normal punctures are caused by small sharp objects like glass, nails, staples, etc. The impact those have on a tire itself are quite small and the tire can normally handle installing a new tube and you are on your way. But when the cut is so large, as stated earlier, you have to get a little more creative.

All the supplies

Here is a picture of the cut in the tread

The cut being a little more visible

The inside of the tire...it's actually bigger than it looks in the picture

In fixing such a problem, you need to put something inside the tire, where the slice is, so that the tube will not “squirt” out. This does not have to be a very big, or bulky, item. Most things can be found on the side of the road. In this case, I had just eaten PowerBar so I used the wrapper. I have also used a dollar bill, grass, paper cup, etc. Just something to block the opening. You could even use a patch from your patch kit and stick that over the hole in the tire. Seems like a waste of a patch though.

The wrapper

So the next steps are the exact same when you change a flat. The critical part is to make sure that you place the covering over the whole. It would be easy to have it slip when you put the tube in or when you inflate it.

However, I have to say that I did not use a CO2 cartridge on this one, which I normally always do. I used this cool little mini pump that fits INSIDE my under-saddle bag. It took quite a few pumps, but was well worth it. It is made by Innovations. I added this to my repair kit after having my CO2 inflator not work. Believe it or not, this has happened twice to me when I am out by myself. It is pretty frustrating when you have 2 tubes and 2 CO2 cartridges, but you cannot get the air into the new tubes! And that is where the cell phone comes into play.

Yup, it works

I hope you never flat, and if you do, you don’t have to implement this strategy. But if you do end up having a large hole, or slice, in your tire, don’t freak out. There is an easy fix.

Friday, July 09, 2010

2 Videos Of The Kids Triathlon

Emma after the finish. (photo by Dave Erickson)

Dave Erickson (www.daveerickson360.com) created a two part video series of the race that Tri Fusion put on again this year. It was an amazing day and so many kids (a sellout) were able to take advantage of it. If you ever want to watch triathlon in its purest form, go watch a kids triathlon. These guys have a blast and put it all out there. And parents... I think they get a better workout in the process as well. A HUGE thank you to all the sponsors that made this great event happen and all the hard work of the volunteers and excellent direction by the beautiful Jessi Thompson.

Click HERE for video #1
Click HERE for Video #2

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mt Spokane

I think it's a ride that most cyclists and triathletes do once a year or so. That is, ride to the top of Mt. Spokane. This is about 3500 vertical feet +/- effort that has some good pitches. Some friends of mine have ridden some of the epic stages in the Tour de France such as Mont Ventoux and L'Alpe d'Huez and said that Mt. Spokane was a tougher climb. I personally have not confirmed this, but I think it goes to say that it is a respectable climb.

It has been a ride that I have been wanting to do for over a month now, but just have not had the time. But recently Shawn Howard, a stellar local cyclist, posted on facebook that he climbed up there and had pics that looked cool. So, I thought, "What the heck." Jessi and I rode for over an hour before she had to go and meet with my mom. She just got a new Cervelo road bike that she has been enjoying to ride and we have been getting out from time to time and enjoying time together on road bikes. Since I did not have a lot more going on, I started towards Mt. Spokane. The day was cloudy with some shots of sun. But there were some very daunting clouds that were throwing down the rain that required any driver to run the wipers on high and slow to about 30mph.

As I rolled across the flatlands, the weather was holding. But just when I hit the base of the mountain, it started to rain...and boy did it rain. I tried to capture how hard it was raining but I could not pull my phone out of the plastic bag because it would have been ruined by the volume of rain.

The last 2 pics were taken through a ziplock bag...but you can still see how hard it's raining

As I climbed up the gradual 5-6% approach, I watched the water stream from my cotton gloves and looked at the sleeves on my jersey droop from my arms and drip water. Fortunately I wore my Timex thermal vest by Sugoi. Though it would get wet, I would hopefully stay warm...especially on the way down. I rode for about 30 minutes in an absolute downpour. It was amazing. It was raining so hard, that you did not even think about how to try and stay dry...or avoid standing water on the road. I don't think I could have been any more wet if I were to have stepped out of a pool. But, I plodded along and maintained some body heat.

I was watching my power output on my new SRM powermeter (thanks Robin and Fitness Fanatics!). I had not even reached the main part of the climb and I was already in my easiest gear. Oh boy, this is going to be a long climb and my legs would be turning over very slowly as I climb.

About 1/4 of the way up the mountain the rain stopped and the sun was trying to come out. The road was still very saturated and the water was streaming down it. But it was beautiful. There was really no place to take it easy and take some pics, but I snapped a few.

I eventually reached the snowmobile parking lot. The clouds took over again and the winds were blowing pretty good. At this point I had 2 options. 1) continue up, or 2) head back down. I was a little nervous about getting too cold, but what the heck. It's just a mountain.

Continue up...Or head down...Down does not sound all that bad...

I have not ridden to the top in quite some time. But whenever I have, I seem to get so friggin' cold. Then, you have to coast all the way down and get colder. But mountains are meant to be climbed and I was most of the way up...I think.

The last portion of the climb is beautiful. You zig zag along the ski runs and are treated to some amazing views...and winds. The road narrows and you really feel like you are on some grand tour alpine stage, but without all the crazy fans.

Kind of looks like a Tour stage.

Once on top I only took a few minutes to snap a couple pics and send Jessi a video to let her know I made it and was heading home. I could not feel my feet and the wind was smokin'. I ate 1/2 a PowerBar and headed down. I made some pretty good time down the entire mountain and was back into the sun. I really don't like descending because I feel it's kind of a waste of time. I'd rather be riding my bike than coasting and braking.

Towards the end of the ride I actually ran into Shawn Howard at a stoplight about 1 mile from home. Crazy. Though I am sure I did not climb it anywhere as fast as he did, or felt as good, I saw the same amazing sight. It was a lot of fun and I hope to ascend that climb again.