Monday, August 25, 2008

PSA: Be Prepared!

Carry what you need to get home:
1 tube
Patch kit (I recommend Park GP-2 "glueless" patches)
Pump (NOT the lame-ass wasteful CO2 things-- a Crank Bros. Powerpump)
Multitool (Crank Bros, again. Awesome.)
Tire levers (Just in case-- Park Tool blue ones are good and tough.)

Here's why: Sometimes when the shit comes down you need an umbrella. On a recent ride, I encountered a hapless guy that just had a couple of changes of clothes, so to speak, and NO umbrella.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a quick ride up in Forest Park. Hadn't been up there in a while. I couldn't decide between the cross bike or the mountain bike. MTB won.

Saw a couple of banana slugs-- why do they always seem to be crossing the trails and never traveling on them? Just crossing. Sorry guys/gals... the other side is more of the same.

Anyway. Crusing up Leif Erickson I pass this guy sitting on the side, wheel in lap-- sure sign of major problem. Or inexperience. As I approach I ask if he's got everything he needs. No response. Coasting by, I repeat the question louder. Nothing. Then I notice the earbuds-- he's listening to music. He looks up as I roll by and just says "hi" to my shouted "Are you okay?"

Oh well-- if he was having intractable problems he'd say something. Plus he had a litter of tubes and tools around him so he looked like he didn't need anything. He certainly looked like he had more than enough. So I move on.

It's late in the afternoon and dinnertime is fast approaching. I don't want to keep the family waiting for me so I decided to make a shorter loop up Saltzman and then down Firelane #5. On my way back down Leif Erickson... the guy is still there. Still sitting down with his wheel in his lap. Now there's another rider with him. This time I stopped, and in my best bossy tone* I asked what was going on.

Oh boy. The guy had gone through two tubes. He said that the valves were defective. *shrug* Whatever. He had ridden through blackberries or something thorny. He seemed pretty flustered and said that he was just going to put his original tube back in and pump it up as much as possible and see how far he could get.

Well, it took a few minutes to sink in, but this guy was completely FUBAR'd. I just couldn't appreciate the enormity of the disaster. Titanic-type.

"Well don't you have any patches?" I asked, sweetly, knowing the answer. Fearing it.

No. No patches. "I've got three tubes!" he claimed. He didn't have a pump either. There was a litter of those cursed CO2 cylinders around his bike. I suggested that he should buy a pump to which he responded "But I brought (3 or 4) CO2 cylinders!"

"Yeah, but they're all used up and now what?" He had no patches, no pump, no viable tubes. He had NO way of fixing his tube without outside help. Unbelievable. (The other rider that stopped had loaned his pump.)

Wait-- it gets worse.

So I just about insist that I patch his tube. It's probably about an hour to walk back down to the gate. At least that. And it's starting to piss down rain.

So I patch the tube, confirm that it's going to hold air and hand it back to the guy. He stuffs it back into the tire and proceeds to use the biggest METAL tire levers I've ever seen. They must have been for motorcycle use originally. I mean-- they must have been the size of my forearm! Satan's tire levers!


He then starts to pump up the tire. Ssssssss.

"You probably pinched the tire," I suggest. "With those big damn stupid tire levers." I think. Again he wants to just give up and hoof it.

So I take the wheel from him remove the tube. Yup. Double snake bite. FOUR HOLES. Good grief.

I try to cover both sets of holes with one patch. The other rider has taken his pump back and is preparing to leave. I'd like to leave too. Effing mosquitoes are making sushi out of me.

I start to pump up the tire and it's going flat just as quickly as I can pump it up. Damn damn damn damn.

"Okay, that's it, I'm walking." The guy is pretty insistent that he's going to just walk and call for a ride home.

At this point I'm just feeling a little stunned by this cascade of failures and the guy's attitude. We've spent about 30 minutes or so fiddling around and I'm going to be late getting home. I'm getting a little pissed off, too.

Fine. If he wants to quit I'm okay with that.

I bid him farewell and take off down the trail.

After about 5 minutes my conscience gets the better of me and I turn around and ride back to him. (He's on the phone, but it sounds like his GF can't find the car keys to come rescue him. Wow. This guy must be paying off some HUGE karmic debt.)

We're out from under the trees this time so I can get a good look at his wheel.


The plastic rim strip has little crescent-shaped cuts in it everywhere. There is a significant, sharp-edged crescent-shaped gouge near a spoke hole.

All this damage is consistent with the spooned edge of a metal tire lever!!

Zoinks! This guy has butchered his wheel with those great damn tire levers. I suggested that he switch to the (awesome) Park Tool tire levers but he kinda blows me off -- "Oh, I've broken so many of those!" I suggested that he's crazy since I've had QuikStiks fail (and break) where the Park levers have not.

I also discover a tear in the tire sidewall, just above the bead. Just incredible.

So I get the tube back in and the tire mounted and aired up-- everything looks okay. Then he discovers that he's got a slow leak in his front tire. We can see a thorn sticking in and air is bubbling through the mud and water.

Fortunately it's a slow leak and he's got plenty of pressure left. He makes his final decision to just make a go of it and this time I have no problems with letting him go-- he'll probably make it or at least get very close.

So I left him with a set of Park patches and a new tube.

Let's see: He went through three tubes, all of his CO2 cylinders (3-4), didn't have any patches, kept damaging his tubes with those damn bloody great big metal tire levers, tore a hole in one of his tire sidewalls, damaged the bed of the rim. Was there anything else?

I don't think he learned anything. Every time I made a suggestion he kind of "pooh-poohed" the idea.

I just couldn't believe what had happened. That guy and his tire levers were his own worst enemy.

Here's what I learned: When making a trail-side repair, take it slow and by the numbers. Do not let anybody rush you-- do the repair right. Riding is better than walking.

And I learned that CO2 inflaters really really really do suck. They're wasteful and stupid. Once they run out you're screwed. A good pump (Crank Bros. Powerpump) is vastly superior. The Powerpump is probably about the same size as those stupid CO2 things and lighter and more compact to boot.

*Not really. Maybe. I mean the guy was still there. Something was up.

1 comment:

William said...

hey slacker...Kermesee yesterday...not far from Forest Park?!?!?!

Plus you could totally volunteer and ride for free!