Flat tyres are sometimes the universe’s way of communicating a deeper, more serious problem and should be ignored at your peril… It all began with Saturday’s spring sunshine drawing me like a magnet to a mid morning ride. Road Path bike still requiring a stem and an afternoon to fit wheels, brake and drivetrain, my fabled 1991 road frameset still at the sprayers, the Univega was my machine of choice. I was a bit surprised to find a flat front tyre greeting me upon opening the garage door but, discovering a deep shard of glass infiltrating the Kevlar bead, I performed the necessary surgery. Satisfied all was well, I popped on a pannier and meandered down our lane.
Beautiful weather, birds singing, plenty of other cyclists about chatting and smiling as we blasted along the back roads and swooped through the lanes, the Univega’s metallic red livery glistening in the sunlight. Seventeen miles later and I was at the seaside, watching the waves down on the beach. Berating myself for not remembering my camera, I decided to head back. Three miles into the return journey PISSSSSSSSSSPHAAAAAAAARP! The roar of 80psi escaping the front tyre rudely interrupted my serene pleasure…
Pulling over to the grass verge, I set about organising patch kit, spare tube, pump etc. A nice fella named John enjoying a blast on his Carrera road bike came to the rescue with a patch that would finally stick.
A few minutes later, satisfied all was well, we said our farewells. He sprinted off into the distance and I was glad to be back on the road. Having checked the usual suspects (rim tape, tyre, tube etc) my heart sank at a further, sudden deflation. Two young women turning a cadence nearing 130 thundered past but enquired as to my welfare. I thanked them and they cantered into the distance. Further stoppage and an extremely thorough investigation revealed my twelve- year old Araya rim was splitting at the sidewall and thus rupturing the tube.
Knowing I had a spare wheel, complete with Nexus dynohub and faced with a fifteen- mile walk, I decided to risk it and rode back on the flat tyre – twelve mph tops and a choppy front end but the Univega and I returned unscathed meeting some lovely folk along the way… Annoying though the puncture plague was- it could’ve been a whole lot worse had my son accompanied me on the tag-along.
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)