One, two, three strikes you’re out

That’s a little how I felt as I changed the tyre on the VR2 this morning.  Never before have I been so challenged and felt like such a complete tool.  I am not a bike mechanic like Sluggo or Andy, but I know how to do the basics, and replacing a tyre and re-installing it with the tube etc, was not thought to be beyond the realm of my ability.  Apparently I underestimated my lack of skills.

The carnage....three tubes down the tube.

The first time I ripped the tube as I was trying to lever on the very new and very tight Conti tyre, I sighed, swore a couple of times, and just started over.  It was frustrating but certainly not the end of the world.  When it happened the second time, only 10 minutes later, I swore out loud this time, threw the tyre levers on the ground in disgust, and berated myself for wasting two good Kenda tubes.  Yeah, I know they’re only $7 each, it’s not the money.  Just a waste.

The third time I was speechless.  What the hell was I doing wrong?  I was being as gentle as possible but that tyre was not going on with any mild coaxing and I had to really yank that bastard.  Apparently it didn’t like that and I heard the unmistakable hisss once again.  Three tubes in the morgue!  Number four was going to require a different approach.

And so it was that I took a step back and slowed right down.  I gently inserted the valve through the hole in the rim and coaxed the lightly inflated tube under the hood of the half installed tyre.  Then using only my hands, I squeezed the second rim of the tyre onto the wheel, working my way around patiently.  So far so good.  When I got to the part that either required fingers of steel (which I don’t have) or tyre levers, I approached with caution, the saying ‘more haste, less speed’ ringing in my ears.  Applying a very slow and even pressure I made sure that I was not pinching the tube with the lever and schlup!  In it went.  No hiss.  Finally.

Abandoned silo near the Atwater market is a reminder that this part of town was once the centre of the city's industry. Now it is a canvas for graffiti artists.

I only managed to leave for my ride at four o’clock, as we had some friends visiting from out of town.  Gorgeous afternoon with spring fever clearly being felt by the masses as plenty of people were out on the bike paths.  Roller bladers, pleasure cyclists, roadies, families strolling with kids and plenty of dogs.  It’s the dogs of the leash that make me nervous.  You just have to slow down ‘cos a) I don’t want to hurt a dog and b) if you hit anything at speed, dog or inanimate object, you are going to come down with quite a bump.  I love getting out at this time of year.  Couple of reasons for this.  To start it’s just incredible to be out after riding in the basement for a few months, and even though I did get out a bit this winter, it is still not the same level of outdoor riding as you get to do the remainder of the year.  Secondly, everything has a smell to is that is hard to describe, but it gives you a rush.  It’s a mixture of earth, green, freshness and dog shit.  Somehow it works though.

The condos that line the Lachine Canal on the approach to the Atwater Market. The canal is still frozen...although I would not walk on there now.

Riding the VR2 after three months of exclusively riding the Kona was like slipping into an Aston Martin Vantage after riding a Subaru.  Both get you to where you’re going, but one of them just feels a lot more luxurious and goes one hell of a lot faster.  I felt bloody brilliant the whole 42 km ride.

The Garmin confirmed a reasonable performance of 32 kph average speed, which given the obstacles along the way, namely slower riders, multiple dog ‘slow-downs’ and children on scooters and no sense of what lane to be in, was a good time.  It’s awesome to be out again and it’ll be even better when I get to christen the season with Sluggo and Andy.

The Mercier Bridge in the evening light.

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8 Responses to One, two, three strikes you’re out

  1. Richard H says:

    I am always amazed at the fit difference between the various manufacturers tyre and rims…..
    My technique for tyres……. Pour talcum powder into your hand, pull the tube through your hand, dump the rest of the powder into the tyre, then roll it around to whiten the insides. Then, like your #3 go really carefully!

  2. Richard H says:

    I’m still distinctly sub par…… I’m waiting for the doc to tell me how my chest X-ray came back, but think I’ll be letting the city drive me to work for another week.

  3. andybuk says:

    What happened to that nice Mechanic book you received !?

  4. I love Conti tires, but they are a royal pain to get off the bike! Last week an experienced mechanic at the local bike shop told me he BROKE three tire levers just getting a pair of Conti tires off the rim! I’ve ridden with Conti tires for many years, but last week I decided to try Michelin tires for a change (they are very easy to put on).

    • James says:

      I am taking some comfort in that it is perhaps not entirely my lack of skill that caused three split tubes – thanks! I am now hoping that I don’t get a flat for some time…

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