Flats, flats, flats

My participation in tonight’s Critical Mass cut short. Miserable weather. Cold and wet. Still, I was comfortable enough in my waterproofs. The sticky feeling the Marmot Precip pants give me is already starting to feel normal enough that I don’t notice it. Supposed to be Oktoberfest-themed route, passing by famous Chicago brewing locations. Somewhere just north of Webster on Halsted I discovered that my rear tire was flat again. Third flat this week. All three were on the back wheel. So much for “puncture-resistant” Serfas Seca tire. Every tire is puncture-resistant for a given value of puncture-resistance, I suppose.

I did not fancy looking in the inadequate street lighting for whatever small piece of glass was embedded in the tire, and my headlamp is even more inadequate than the street lights (it serves mainly for motorists to see me rather than for me to see the road), so I decided to take the CTA back and scour the tire for the offending piece of debris back home. Perversely, I actually enjoyed the walks in the rain, wheeling my IRO, from where I flatted to the Red Line station, and then from the #6 bus stop to my apartment. I felt like I was taking an after-dinner stroll with a friend. My best friend is the IRO. Quiet and useful, what more could I ask of it? Those strolls were probably the highlights of tonight. The highlight of the Mass itself was when someone offered me a chocolate chip cookie. I normally have little love for the oversweet calorie bombs but in the cold and wet, surrounded by hundreds of other cold and wet nutcases, it was a moment of bright sensory warmth. Perfect, as the person beside me who had also accepted a cookie said.
Turned out there were numerous tiny gashes on the tire. One of them went right through the casing and had the piece of gravel still stuck in it. That was probably the culprit. At least the tire seems to be more structurally sound than the Duro Hypersonic, that is, most of the gashes don’t go through the casing, and most of them were short (nothing approaching the nearly 10mm gash on the Duro Hypersonic that I replaced). But the frequency of flats is unacceptable. I decided not to be a cheapskate anymore, and splashed out on the Vredestein Fortezza SE. Which, on sale at Performance Bike, is after all only $12 more than the Serfas Seca.

I was really looking for the Specialized Armadillo but there were no decent online deals, and I am too lazy and antisocial to ask around at the local bike shops.

I’m still keeping the Duro Hypersonic on the front wheel. So far just that one flat at BLT, and no major cuts.

While walking to the Red Line station, pushing my bike along, I had to endure attacks of guilt at not even trying to fix the flat and get home by my own leg power. “I won’t be able to find the offending piece of debris” is just an excuse! Really you just don’t want to fiddle with the tire in this awful weather! Wimp.

I really do think I wouldn’t have been able to find that piece of gravel, and would most likely have flatted again on the way back. The power of self-delusion?

If there’s one thing about my battered old Schwinn Intercontinental that I miss, it’s the Specialized Armadillo on the front wheel. I don’t care if it’s a rough ride. I’m sick of glancing down at my back wheel every 30 seconds fearing that it’ll deflate any moment.

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