Where do I begin? What causes punctures?


May 9, 2008 by welshcyclist

What a week this has been, and no mistake. I’ve been back and fall to Halfords, my local bikeshop, or LBS, as some of you fellow bloggers refer to it. Why? As usual it’s a long story, which I’ve partly related to Svenny, after his comment to my last post, and by the way Svenny, hope I haven’t confused you, by using my real name, on my return comment.
But getting back to my travails of this past week, it goes like this….

Last Sunday, on my cycle ride to work, I got a puncture in my back wheel, about 3 miles from my workplace, I was fortunate, I was able to get one of my colleagues to come out and pick me, and the Subway 8 up. At work, first I fixed the puncture, then punctured the inner tube again, when one of my tyre levers broke, whilst popping the tyre back on. I patched this new puncture, but when I pumped it up, the patch broke. Consequently I had to get my eldest son to come out and drive me and the bike home after work.

What caused the original puncture?? It would seem, no that’s incorrect, it was caused by poor workmanship. The last time I went to my LBS, due to a puncture in my front tyre, I had a new inner tube, and extra puncture protection, in the form of a strong plastic strip, inserted into both front and rear tyres. That was done last Saturday, I thought I was then raring to go Sunday.

It wasn’t to be, because the subsequent puncture, on the Sunday, was caused by the plastic strip overlapping, which formed an edge inside the tyre, which after 8 miles, cut through the inner tube.

On the Monday I took the bike to my LBS, they fixed the puncture quickly, and got rid of the offending edge, installed another inner tube, all gratis.

Tuesday, I was on a short shift, and had decided to cycle all the way to work. I duely set off at 06.00 am, allowing myself 2 hours, for the journey. I cycled by road to Cwmgwrach, then picked up the canal towpath, by Union mine. I was able to stay on the towpath via the new aquaduct, at Ynysarwed, through Tonna, Neath, Giant’s Grave, and on to Briton Ferry, where I joined the cyclepath alongside the old A48 road by McDonalds. Only I didn’t pass McDonalds, I got another puncture, yet again, in the back tyre.

Once more, I got a colleague to come out and rescue me, I now was known, in the Welsh vernacular, made famous by Dylan Thomas, in “Under Milk Wood”, e.g., Dai the post, and so on, I am “Curtis the flat”. A bit of a comedown from my rugby playing days when I was known as “Curtis the crash”, for my tackling prowess. At work, I, once more, examined the tyre for any kind of penetration, finding nothing, I rang my LBS and complained.

They said for me to get the bike to them, and they’d sort it out. Borrowing a car, I should say van, I took the Subway 8 to them, during my break, and picked it up, on the way home. Once more they found the problem, the rim tape had moved, (presumably when they fixed the puncture last time?), installed a new inner tube, and hey presto!

Wednesday morning, as usual I parked the car at Aberdulais, to cycle the rest of the way to work, I got as far as Baglan, 2 miles out from my destination, when I was struck again with a flat back tyre, a third colleague volunteered to pick me up, and I rewarded them all with a bacon and sausage buttie, when I, eventually arrived, I’d got my flat, this time, outside a local bakery. As soon as 09.00 am arrived, I was on the phone to my LBS, Halfords, complaining bitterly, They agreed to pay for a taxi to get me and the bike to their shop at midday, on my break, so that they could solve the problem!!

Yet again, the now very red faced bike mechanic, and the store manager went about taking the back wheel off, examining the tyre for any incisions, shards of glass, anything, to get them off the hook. Finding nothing, they set about taking the tyre off, crefully looking for any intrusion from outside….. once again nothing. Then they had a really good look at the inner tube, to find a tiny hole, which would have sat next to the rim tape??

The new rim tape was removed, a layer of electricity tape was wound round the rim circumference twice, a new rim tape, a new inner tube, and more plastic puncture proof strip were all installed, free of charge, while the manager apologised and refunded my £20 for the taxi ride. I cycled back to my car, feeling very paranoid about having a puncture, loaded the bike up and returned to work. Needless to say, my paranoia was such, that I drove home, that night.

Thursday, I had a great trip into work on the Subway, my colleagues clapped and cheered, that I had made it, without a flat. The day flew by, and I was looking foreward to my return trip, and as my son, Tierloch, wanted to be picked up at Aberdulais at 07.00 pm., I knew I had alot of time available to make a big diversion, to take me all along the Aberavon seafront, add to that, that the sun was blazing down from a clear blue sky, on what seemed a perfect evening. Leaving time came, my relief signed in and I was off.

I didn’t make it to the seafront, didn’t make a mile, I felt the tyre softening, 1st I thought I was imagining it, but all at once all the air had departed from the rear tyre, for the 4th time in 4 days. Perhaps, I thought, I could pump it up, I’d just had a bit of bad luck, anyway I succeeded in re-inflating it, and continued my trip, returning to the shorter route, while at the same time convincing myself, that it was a slow puncture, and if need be, I could pump it up a couple of times on route to my car. Only managed a mile or so, before I had to try to re-inflate it again, try being the operative word, it would not hold any air at all.

Using my mobile phone, I rang for a taxi, the same firm I had used, the day before, to get to Halfords, I must be getting famous , I thought to myself, everybody knew, or had seen, or had given a lift to, or had heard about “Curtis the flat”. The taxi said they’d be with me in 15 minutes, while I waited, I examined the outside of the tyre for the tell tale damage of a puncture, to find nothing. Then I rang Halfords, to tell them that, yet again, the unthinkable had happened, and I would see them in the morning, and by the way, they had another taxi fare to pay for.

It’s Friday evening now, the Subway is still at Halfords, they say they’ve fixed it, but the mechanic is putting a few miles on it, to check it’s really OK, this time, and that it stays inflated overnight etc.. We shall see.

I told them this morning, that there has been one common factor throughout this extended fiasco, the back wheel, that they replaced a couple of weeks ago., because of the problems I was having with the internal hub gears?? I think they should replace that with a new one, but we shall see what happens tomorrow.

I really must learn to touch type, it’s taken me ages to post this, and I’ve so much more I’d like to add, but Elizabeth is all on her own in the front room, so I’ll have to go.

2 thoughts on “Where do I begin? What causes punctures?

  1. Antoine says:

    That’s quite a story. Take some pictures next time so we can see the misery on your face!I wonder if there is something rough inside the rim or you have struck a faulty batch of tubes? Touch wood… I have not had a flat since I returned to cycling 3 years ago… but you don’t want to here that. I hope that is the last flat you get for a while. Best of luck.

  2. Antoine says:

    … and yet another! I feel your pain. It’s hard to believe there is nothing sharp in there slicing those tubes. Is Halfords a proper bike shop or some kind of department store? If so you would be better off establishing a relationship with a proper local bike shop that knows what they are talking about.

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