I decided to go tubeless. It’s all the rage apparently. Excellent puncture resistance and ride quality, they say. A small sacrifice in weight apparently, but on a steel frame commuter bike it’s all just extra training! Why the bloody hell not. Embrace modern technology you old fart.
First outing on the space-age tech was this morning’s 20 mile commute to North Bristol. With my reformed stone-age mentality, I set off at 6.30am to be at work for 8am. Half an hour in and I felt the unfamiliar sensation of a flat. I’d previously been riding on the same Conti 4 Seasons for almost 2 years without one. Why oh why would the evil Puncture Gods choose to smite me now. After several years being a devout retro-grouch and resisting all change to tubeless I’d finally made a sacrifice to the Gods and killed off my clinchers.
No drama I thought. Just stick in a bit more air in and wait for the magic sealant to fill the hole. This didn’t work. Therefore, drama.
Luckily I had a couple of spare inner tubes so I decided to ‘just’ whip off the tyre and stick in a tube. Ho-ho. It went roughly like this:
- Struggle to remove tight-as-fuck tubeless tyre
- Legs and shoes get sprayed with sealant
- Struggle to remove valve with freezing fingers
- Insert tube getting sealant all over hands
- Struggle for ages to get tight-as-fuck tubeless tyre back on rim.
- Break a tyre lever.
- Realise that I will probably split the inner tube with the lever but also realise I have no alternative so press on
- Once tyre is on, use ‘magic’ CO2 canister to reinflate tyre.
- Notice that tyre is not reinflating, therefore realise I am simply polluting atmosphere with magic CO2
- Look around, see that nobody is nearby and shout “FUCK” at top of lungs
- Realise that some of the cars that are driving past are probably thinking “ha ha, stupid cyclist”
- Repeat steps 1 – 5 with second tube
- Locate backup mini pump. Try to reinflate second tube. Pump is broken. Haven’t used it for years.
- Stand on side of road for 10 minutes waiting for another cyclist.
- Flag him down and kindly borrow his pump
- Inflate tyre and say big thanks bro etc.
- Recommence journey
- Notice that tyre is going flat again.
- Repeat Step 10
- Phone a friend who laughs. Decide to ride to friend’s office as there is a bike workshop next door
- Ride 5 miles on a flat tyre. Almost fall off on a couple of corners
- Get to friends office at 8.15am. Everything is closed.
- Reception opens at 8.30am and they have a magic bike repair box
- Take a new inner tube from magic box
- Discover that someone has borrowed the pump from the magic box and not returned it
- Get friend to help install 3rd tube.
- Repeat steps 1 – 5, being thankful that friend also finds it a massive effing struggle and it’s not just me being a puny woos-bag
- Wait for bike workshop to open and borrow track pump
- Go to friend’s office for a nice cup of coffee
- Continue journey to work and arrive at 10.15am, almost 4 hours after setting off
- Be grateful that first meeting at work is not until 11.30am
- Eat food and drink coffee
Luckily my journey home was totally non-eventful. General advice from people I’ve spoken to is that new tubeless tyres can take a couple of rides to ‘bed in’ properly. Maybe I should’ve done a couple of local rides on them first.
Change, eh. Who needs it!
Luckily, sometimes things are so bad that they end up being funny. And you realise that if this is the biggest hardship you have to deal with in life then you’re doing pretty well.