Another 1000 miles, Another Rear Tire [LONG]



I also killed two tubes and a tire iron yesterday. And when I got to
the volcano crater park (where I was supposed to meet my classmates for
lunch and touristing) I discovered that the school had not only
cancelled the trip but also had neglected to inform me because I wasn't
signed up for the bus.

With a start like that, you'd expect the rest of this message to be a
full-on whinge about the unfairness of the universe. However, despite
the fact that I managed to get completely lost offroad, have my first
ever blowout, maul the valve on an inner tube, and never finding a
place to eat lunch, yesterday was fabulous! Even the hitchiking bits
(okay, the taking city busses with a bike bits.)

For the data geeks my previous tire was a Maxxis 700 X 22cc that
doesn't seem to exist on their website. I'm guessing, like so many
other companies, their Asia line is different and if on the web is only
on the web in Chinese. Recommended PSI 100, max PSI 110. It's the
tire that came with my bike and the tire I bought for 60rmb ($6.50)
1000 miles ago when I last trashed my rear tire.

The new tire is a Michelin Dynamic 700 X 20cc min 87 PSI, max 116, no
specific recommended pressure. It actually exists on a variety of
websites and appears to be an international product. I paid 100 rmb
($12) for it.

With three tires to choose from, one of them being the same one that
had twice failed at 1000 miles, and one being a lightweight tire for
racing I picked the Michelin. Let's hope this one lasts longer.

The route I had taken to the volcano crater wasn't a particularly
interesting one. Which isn't to say that it is a particularly boring
route either. But, when the map I picked up (which doesn't have
details down at the county level) showed another road I could take to
go home from the volcano park I decided to take that one.

I had spent the last three hours _trying_ for a road I've been on with
the bike club before but a plentitude of attempts to use the
from-here-to-there unpaved shortcut through mountain villages I'd been
on in the past didn't work. Possibly because, when they take me
offroad, I'm too busy noticing the ground to fully register the
landmarks. Possibly because the bits that go through the center of
villages frequently involve alleys narrower than the hallways in some
apartment buildings. And all the alleys in all the villages look the
same.

About a kilometer past the turnoff to Mei'An (and the volcano park) I
came to a very wide tree lined road. The maintenance level where this
turnoff met the highway was less than great. Sort of like the highway
had been repaved a couple few times since the last time this road was
dealt with and no one had bothered to make sure the two roads still
met. The highway was maybe three inches higher. But, it was a big
road going the right direction in approximately the right place (no
scale on my map).

Ghost city. Two lanes each direction. Bike lanes. Sidewalks.
Regularly planted trees in city tree planters. And almost _nothing_
else. It was like they'd built the infrastructure for a city and then
the city simply never happened. There were one or two factories, some
crumbling apartments, a double row of unfinished villas, and completely
taking up a bike lane and one a half of the car lanes about two
kilometers down the road a seven hundred year old mounded dirt
mausoleum.

And then the road just ended. It was still there but it also wasn't
there. The ghost of a road in the ghost of a city. The land had been
cleared and levelled but the pavement had never been put down and it
had been long enough ago that some of the plants growing on the road
surface were taller than me. It was one thing going offroad when one
has a slight clue about where offroad is going to go, even if one keeps
getting lost. This was quite another thing. I decided to turn around,
go back to the highway, invest another 10 minutes in looking for the
route I wanted, and, if I couldn't find it, go home the way I came.

But, first, I wanted to check out this mausoleum. It didn't merely
sprawl halfway across the road, it even cut into the walls of the
factory next to it. It was as if the factory and road had been there
first and the mausoleum was dropped from the sky on top of them. The
cultural decision to preserve antiquities had warred with the tactical
decision to build in straight lines. Straight lines won. But
antiquities got a concession. The lanes of the road went straight up
to the very edge of the mausoleum before dead ending. And started the
same way on the other side. The factory and factory wall simply had a
mausoleum shaped chunk taken out of the side of them.

Since coming to this nameless place I'd seen no more than three or four
people on foot and perhaps twice as many trucks but I still wasn't
comfortable leaving my bike unattended at the foot of the monument when
climbing to the top to take pictures. So I took it up with me and left
it in the brush by the side of the stairs. Which is how I got my first
ever thorn puncture.

I couldn't get the patch to stick. Maybe my lack of skill. Maybe
because the it was mizzling heavier now (but still not quite heavy
enough to be a drizzle). When I decided to use my spare tube instead I
yanked my pump off of the tube, forgetting to unlock the pump first.
It's a stiff pull even when unlocked. It's not that much stiffer when
locked in place. The difference - if you pull it off when locked in
place, you take half of the valve with you.

Then, I broke one of the tire irons taking the tire back off again.
Then, I noticed that the tire was getting very worn near the bead(?),
probably from the number of times my not so skilled hands have taken it
off and put it back on again.
Then, when I pumped it up the tube showed in two places.

But, unlike the last time when the tube was sticking out through the
sidewall it felt perfectly normal to ride on. So, I rode on it. Which
is at least as stupid a mistake as yanking the pump off the tube
without unlocking it from the valve. And, hopefully, a mistake I won't
be dumb enough to do again. You live, you learn.

At least I'd made it out to the main road by the time this happened.
It would have been really bad to have had my blowout in the ghost town.
Kilometers of walking kind of bad. So getting a bus home wasn't too
hard. The first bus charged me two fares (one for me, one for my
bike). That got me into the city. Once in the city I was quite
surprised that one of the clean clean shiny new bright aircon bus
drivers was not only willing to let me take my bike (which was coated
with the kind of thick red clay that leaves rust stains) on his bus he
didn't even charge me extra to do it.

It was a real good day. During one of the times when my mp3 player was
off (I only listen to it on boring stretches) I found myself
spontaneously singing "sweet dreams are made of this, who am I to
disagree, travel the world and the seven seas, everybody's looking for
something" and decided that they really are made of this. Made of mist
and mountains, mud and rocks, 50kph descents and 5kph climbs, village
kids and ancient blacksmiths, banana fields and pigs sleeping in the
middle of the path. They're even made of flat tires and bus drivers.

-M
 
It is always fun to hear about your cycling experiences in China,
Marian. I admire the spirit with which you react to this kind of event.

You can make a temporary repair (called a "boot") on the inside of a
worn sidewall to keep the inner tube from bulging through and blowing
out. There are kits available, and I've heard of using duct tape, a
large patch for a tube, or a dollar bill. I haven't used a boot myself,
so I leave it to someone with experience to suggest what works and what
doesn't.

--
Paul Turner
 
Paul Turner wrote:
> It is always fun to hear about your cycling experiences in China,
> Marian. I admire the spirit with which you react to this kind of event.
>
> You can make a temporary repair (called a "boot") on the inside of a
> worn sidewall to keep the inner tube from bulging through and blowing
> out. There are kits available, and I've heard of using duct tape, a
> large patch for a tube, or a dollar bill. I haven't used a boot myself,
> so I leave it to someone with experience to suggest what works and what
> doesn't.


I've gotten a dollar bill to work for about 5 miles. Roads were rough
though.
\\paul
 
>I've gotten a dollar bill to work for about 5 miles. Roads were rough
though.
\\paul

That would be about 3 dollars for 15 miles - about the cost of gas for
a SUV for that distance!

:eek:)
 
I've used duct tape for a boot (i.e. a way to keep the tube from poking
through a hole in the sidewall). It was messy, but I was throwing the tire
out anyway.

One trick: wrap duct tape around your seatpost. It's handy there and doesn't
get in the way.
 
Marian you're an inspiration! The intrepid roundeye suffering punctures
and the mystifying infrastructure doctrine of the late chairman -
braving all with an irrepressible sense of humor! Great post.

It's surprising that your tires are all so thin (20c - 22c). Is the
choice of tires so limited? I don't expect that the locals ride on such
rubber.

Yeah, as you've noticed, if the tube's 'bubbling' out of the tire
sidewall, you won't be going far. Carry some tire boots[1] in your tool
kit. They can made from the carcass of a used tire; use a hefty pair of
scissors or a blade knife to excise a section of sidewall. Park makes a
tire boot but I suspect, given your location, that's not an option.


1.
A tire boot is a patch placed between tire and tube at sidewall tears
to keep tubes within the tire.
http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_bo-z.html#boot
 
[email protected] wrote:
> ...
> For the data geeks my previous tire was a Maxxis 700 X 22cc that
> doesn't seem to exist on their website. I'm guessing, like so many
> ...


For all the rough roads you are riding on, it seems like you are asking
a lot of your skinny tires and wheels. 22c is just not much rubber on
the road. I enjoy your posts, though. You do get around!
 
The ride sounds pretty neat, even if it didn't turn out the way you plan.
The bike repair epic sounds like a few that I've had, although I manage to
have most of mine at home. Extra character building points for having a bike
repair epic miles from home in a foreign country.

FWIW, I've gotten consistently good value from Michelin tires over the
years. I do agree with a few other posters that the tires are a bit narrow
for the kind of riding you describe. If you could find a pair of Michelin
tires in 700x 23, 700x 25 or 700x28, and if they would fit between the
chainstays of your bike, they would require less frequent inflation, provide
a smoother ride on bad roads, and be less vulnerable to pinch flats.
Meanwhile keep riding the Michelins you have, they will probably give better
service than the original tires on your bike.
--
mark
 
Luke wrote:
> Marian you're an inspiration! The intrepid roundeye suffering punctures
> and the mystifying infrastructure doctrine of the late chairman -
> braving all with an irrepressible sense of humor! Great post.


I'm looking forward to seeing how my mausoleum photos will turn out.
And, sometime in February I'll probably beg, borrow, or rent a mountain
bike and find out where the ghost road goes.

> It's surprising that your tires are all so thin (20c - 22c). Is the
> choice of tires so limited? I don't expect that the locals ride on such
> rubber.


Bike club locals do.

My friend Xiao Zheng has even skinnier tires and, while he doesn't take
the purty carbon bike offroad he has been known to deliberately ride
(was riding, today, with me) on dirt roads.

But, no, they don't. Frequently they are surprised to find out that
tires as skinny and hard as mine aren't solid. Carrying spare tubes
and (for the trip to Vietnam, a spare tire) isn't just a matter of
practicality regarding the occasional mountain village. It's also a
matter of not being able to buy spares most places. All of the repair
stands outside of the big cities (and some of the ones in the city)
have never seen a presta valve.

> Yeah, as you've noticed, if the tube's 'bubbling' out of the tire
> sidewall, you won't be going far. Carry some tire boots[1] in your tool
> kit. They can made from the carcass of a used tire; use a hefty pair of
> scissors or a blade knife to excise a section of sidewall. Park makes a
> tire boot but I suspect, given your location, that's not an option.


Once you get past the main sales floor the two local bike shops are
surprisingly good. The more I learn about bikes the more constantly
(and consistently) I am impressed by their stock. I could probably get
it. They have everything else.

The only time I'm going to get far enough away from civilization (as
defined as a place where I can have someone else fix my bike) that I
can't get back in a reasonable amount of time or with a reasonable
amount of effort I'm either going to be travelling loaded or being
trailed by the support vehicle fairies. In both cases, spare tires can
be carried and are probably better than a last minute emergency fudge.

I would like to learn how to use a spoke wrench. If I'd had one of
them (and known how to use it) I wouldn't have needed to cut my first
multi-day tour short and take the bus the last 250 kilometers.

-M
 
catzz66 wrote:
> [email protected] wrote:
> > ...
> > For the data geeks my previous tire was a Maxxis 700 X 22cc that
> > doesn't seem to exist on their website. I'm guessing, like so many
> > ...

>
> For all the rough roads you are riding on, it seems like you are asking
> a lot of your skinny tires and wheels. 22c is just not much rubber on
> the road. I enjoy your posts, though. You do get around!


Yes, and I definitely shouldn't be taking the skinny wheels offroad.
But I promised myself no new toys until this one has reached a
kilometers/price point equal to the half the cost of a taxi.

-M
 
[email protected] wrote:
>
>
> Yes, and I definitely shouldn't be taking the skinny wheels offroad.
> But I promised myself no new toys until this one has reached a
> kilometers/price point equal to the half the cost of a taxi.
>
>


This may have been suggested already, but is it feasible to think about
a new set of wheels? You don't necessarily have to junk the old ones.
 
In article <[email protected]>,
<"[email protected]"> wrote:

> I would like to learn how to use a spoke wrench. If I'd had one of
> them (and known how to use it) I wouldn't have needed to cut my first
> multi-day tour short and take the bus the last 250 kilometers.


Yup, I've had those rides - bike strapped to the roof with chickens and
pigs (recently deceased). No doubt about it, ability with a spoke
wrench sure saves on bus fare, and it's definitely a prerequisite if
you intend on touring (in Vietnam). A primer is in order: roll over to
your bike club or LBS and avail yourself of their benevolence - I
suspect the greater pleasure will be theirs.

Luke
 
catzz66 wrote:
> [email protected] wrote:
> >
> >
> > Yes, and I definitely shouldn't be taking the skinny wheels offroad.
> > But I promised myself no new toys until this one has reached a
> > kilometers/price point equal to the half the cost of a taxi.

>
> This may have been suggested already, but is it feasible to think about
> a new set of wheels? You don't necessarily have to junk the old ones.


As in a wider set, as in a stronger rim, or both?

Despite the number of flats I've had in the past month and twice
destroying a rear tire at the 1000 mile point I'm generally quite happy
with my narrow wheels.

-M
 
[email protected] wrote:
>
>
> As in a wider set, as in a stronger rim, or both?
>
> Despite the number of flats I've had in the past month and twice
> destroying a rear tire at the 1000 mile point I'm generally quite happy
> with my narrow wheels.
>
>


I'd ask the group at large. Your brakes will need to match up with the
new wheel.
 
In article <[email protected]>,
catzz66 <[email protected]> wrote:

> [email protected] wrote:
> >
> >
> > As in a wider set, as in a stronger rim, or both?
> >
> > Despite the number of flats I've had in the past month and twice
> > destroying a rear tire at the 1000 mile point I'm generally quite happy
> > with my narrow wheels.
> >
> >

>
> I'd ask the group at large. Your brakes will need to match up with the
> new wheel.


This got me to thinking about flatting.

I started keeping an eye on my flatting last year after i changed my commute
route to add a couple of miles and saw a dramatic increase in flatting. and
finally located a flat source on my route.

We probably all know of a stretch of road or MUP habitually littered with
glass and debris. This wasn't that ...or was it?

I ride a riverside MUP which passes through a downtown bar/restaurant
district. They MUP pretty tidy, but i was avg. about a flat/50 passes
through the area... For several months i had attributed my flatting to a
propensity to hop from MUP to street and hammer through a slightly pot-holed
stretch of road.

The culprit turned out to be a 40' stretch of beveled brick pavers in the
middle of what was otherwise asphalt and poured concrete. The surface of the
pavers appears debris-free, but little bottle shards from the nearby drumk
factories' patrons would hide in all the nice triangular-shaped spaces
between the bricks (remember: beveled). In particular, they'd hide heavy
side down and light --- pointy --- side up.

Yes, the beveling of the paver bricks tended to actually force the sharp
points of the glass shards into a vertical orientation. It took me almost
6 months to figure this out.

Now i carry my bike through the land of tiny daggers.

Number of flats since i figured this out: 0.

..max
 
max wrote:
> In article <[email protected]>,
> catzz66 <[email protected]> wrote:
>
> > [email protected] wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > > As in a wider set, as in a stronger rim, or both?
> > >
> > > Despite the number of flats I've had in the past month and twice
> > > destroying a rear tire at the 1000 mile point I'm generally quite happy
> > > with my narrow wheels.
> > >

> > I'd ask the group at large. Your brakes will need to match up with the
> > new wheel.

>
> This got me to thinking about flatting.
>
> I started keeping an eye on my flatting last year after i changed my commute
> route to add a couple of miles and saw a dramatic increase in flatting. and
> finally located a flat source on my route.


The puncture I got in Guangzhou was the cause of at least four of my
recent flats and the dead tire. One because the patch wasn't applied
well enough. One because I damaged the tube putting it in. One
because a thorn went into the tread in the same place the nail went in.
One because the damage caused to the bead from the number of times the
tire went on and off allowed the tube to creep out and make a blowout.

Worst of all, it was a deliberately caused puncture. A screw carefully
balanced point up in the bike lane conveniently near a repair stand. I
thought I was being cynical for thinking that but two of my local
friends have independtly come up with the same theory of that being the
only possible way a nice long sharp screw like that could have found
its way into my tire so close to a repair stand.
 
<[email protected]> wrote
> Worst of all, it was a deliberately caused puncture. A screw carefully
> balanced point up in the bike lane conveniently near a repair stand. I
> thought I was being cynical for thinking that but two of my local
> friends have independtly come up with the same theory of that being the
> only possible way a nice long sharp screw like that could have found
> its way into my tire so close to a repair stand.
>


There's a theory about why it's almost always the rear tire that flats. As
the front tire passes over a road hazard (nail, thorn, nice long sharp
screw) the tire kicks the road hazard up into the air without puncturing the
tire. The road hazard then lands in an almost point up position just in time
for the rear tire to roll right over it. So there's really no need for the
repair stand guy to carefully balance the screw point up, he just has to
drop it in the road somewhere and wait for a passing cyclist to put it point
up for him.
--
mark
 
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

>Worst of all, it was a deliberately caused puncture. A screw carefully
>balanced point up in the bike lane conveniently near a repair stand. I
>thought I was being cynical for thinking that but two of my local
>friends have independtly come up with the same theory of that being the
>only possible way a nice long sharp screw like that could have found
>its way into my tire so close to a repair stand.


I used to notice an "unusual number" of bike repair stands just past
large quantities of broken glass on the roads in China. And yes, I've
patched some tires near some of them.

Mark Hickey
Habanero Cycles
http://www.habcycles.com
Home of the $795 ti frame
 
Perhaps you could tie a broom to the front of your bike to sweep the
street in front of you?
 
Colorado Bicycler wrote:
> Perhaps you could tie a broom to the front of your bike to sweep the
> street in front of you?


Or just never ride in Guangzhou. :)

-M
 

Similar threads