I’m lucky to have a nice bike that is impressively reliable, and for years my tires have been equally so. But starting about three months ago, my tire became decidedly unlucky.
First there was a spate of three punctures in a row. Glass. Then there was the mysterious hole that had no explanation.
Patched and happy, Andy Bike and I went on a multi-day, off-road adventure over lava, gravel, sand, and rock. There was no flat to be seen. My tire was lucky.
Then on a casual ride with my wife, it went flat again. Unlucky.
A few weeks later when Andy announced he was hosting an evening, Grant Peterson-style ride, I felt that a little pedal around town would be fun. And it was fun. My friend Zach described it:
Up Tabor we went. There were stairs. When Andy said in the ride preview that there would be stairs, I thought “oh, that’s cute, we probably will carry our bikes up a little flight of stairs just so we can say ‘hey we carried our bikes up stairs today’.” That was not the case. These stairs were not cute. There was a lot of them. Ha. Some climbed the stairs, some pushed the bikes next to them. Either way, we ascended. Then, a supple-tired gravelly descent.
And then things went pear-shaped for Bruce. He had a flat. We stopped to help. Bruce’s tire was resolute in it’s desire to remain on the rim. Until it was off the rim. Then it fought tooth and nail to stay off the rim. We got it back on the rim. And began to pump. And pump. And pump. With several different pumps. Finally we capitulated, as the tire had, and agreed the tube must have torn when we installed. So we were once more back into the fold, pulling the tire off the rim. Indeed, there was a pinch. We (Chris) patched. Bruce said “go, fellows, go.” We said “no, Bruce, no.” We felt we should stay and help, in the spirit of the ride. There were perhaps 5 of us there at the end, fighting this tire, giving it everything we’ve got captain. Dr. Squirrel provided calm leadership and helpful objective feedback. Bruce (and his stubborn tire) was finally back on track.
Onward. We climbed Powell Butte as the sun was setting. Side note: I believe there is no greater place to be, in the world, during the golden hour than on a bike, riding with a group of old and new friends, across some interesting terrain. Don’t forget to make time to do this.
At the start of the climb, I had a baffling drivetrain calamity. Oliver calmly and patiently helped. At the top, we talked bandit camping, drank some water, listened to Andy provide safety guidance, then continued downward…
The descent was one of the best things I have ever done on a bike. It was dark, and the forest was a little spooky, and there were probably 15 or so of us at that time, spaced out, picking our way through the rolling trail, just dangerous enough to demand total focus but not so dangerous as to make you feel like it may be curtains for sure, and it was just FUN.
We hopped on the Springwater Trail, and then things fell apart for Bruce. Another flat.
I went home and threw away that unlucky tire. I put a new one on and went gingerly to work. No flat.
I rode home over the big hill and just a mile or two from home I heard a strange clackety-clack. It was the sound of a 16-penny nail that pierced my tire, and only stopped when it hit the rim.
I still felt lucky- it could have happened going 30mph on the downhill. It could have been worse. My tire was unlucky, but not me.