How Many Holes?

I really enjoy living in Colorado. Most of the things we deal with here are great. Some are not so great. A few are downright annoying. Let's focus on the latter tonight. Last night, at their insistence, I took the kids for the first bike ride of the season. We rode on pathways over to the 'tree park' and then road dirt roads over to another neighborhood. Nothing too crazy--except my inability to get the clipless pedal thing, so I wound up falling twice more to the laughs of my children; no respect!

As we got back home from our 3 or 4 mile jaunt (I don't have my cycling computer hooked up yet on the new bike), I could tell I was getting a flat (this is the first real ride I've taken on this bike, mind you.) That yielded some not-so-pleasant grumbling on my part because I knew what was coming next. The goatheads were out of control! If you haven't spent time in CO, you likely aren't familiar with these insidious little torture tools. We should package them up and send them to the Taliban. They come from sagebrush and are very barbed on multiple sides. They poke through darn near anything. Like fingers. Like shoes. Like bike tires. I had hoped that since we didn't just go ride across an open field, we wouldn't have too many problems with them.

I hoped wrong.

When I went out this afternoon I saw that we had not 1 or 2, but 4 flat tires (Amy's and my bikes completely flat), and Misha's bike was a goathead memorial, but the heads themselves were plugging the holes so the air hadn't yet leaked all the way.

Tonight I decided to get to work on cleaning up my handiwork. Took about two hours! Out of Misha's bike alone I pulled over 100 goatheads! Crap. Her tires had a good 10-20 holes each. Mine had 2-3 holes each, and Amy's had 4-6 each. What a mess. But after my labor, I have a few lessons I've learned, which I'm now prepared to share with my Internet posterity:

  1. Slime--which is apparently the worldwide leader in tire care (and which I learned tonight even owns the expensive web property; who wudda thunk--is heavenly stuff. It even tastes ok. It won't kill you, except if you live in California, where they passed a law saying it could kill you, just like breathing their air, drinking spirits, and riding in hotel elevators.
  2. Slime doesn't just "work." Even though I've had in most all of the bikes (sometimes 3 or 4 times it seems!), you have to give it a hand. When you ride into goatheads, you have to pull them out with pliers, let the holes start hissing air, and then spin the tire to get the slime to go into the hole. If you just ride around on goatheads, you're inviting problems. You might even swear in front of your kids if your tube goes flat while you're riding and you wipe out in front of them (luckily I avoided that one; instead, I prefer to wipe out in front of them for no good reason at all, like because my feet are welded to the pedals).
    If you wait until you get home and then pull them out and then go inside, you also have problems. You'll come out into the garage the following day and then start grumbling. You have to spin the tire and let the slime get into the holes before all the air is expelled. Good to know, eh? Once I learned this, I was able to fix Misha's bike without even taking the wheels off (a good trick on a kid's bike with quick-release nuttin.). Slime 101.
  3. Tire liners ought to be mandatory in my state. When you change your address, the welcome kit should come with tire liners. If you haven't seen these babies, you should move to CO so you have a reason to need them, like me. My old bike didn't have a flat for several years after I put them in.
  4. Amazon
    is sending me
    3 sets of tire liners immediately. They should send you some, too. All bikes in our family shall have tire liners henceforth (except Kristen's, cuz she has 12" tires and I'm not stupid).
  5. Presta-valved tires are not very easy to put slime in. In fact, they are downright miserable to put slime in. You have to work some magic on them. I got one done great and was proud of myself.
    My other tube, though, got ruined when I bent the valve stem and couldn't get it back into the hole. Scratch one tube and one hour of only mild swearing. But then I saw the label on the tube. It had the words "Taiwan" and "thin" so i stopped being sad that it was trashed. It also turns out that my presta-to-schraeder adapter isn't here yet, so I was stuck with a little hand pump trying to complete this charade. My air compressor was sitting there mocking me the entire time! Why is it that fancy bikes all have elitist presta valves, anyway?
I spent over twice as long fixing things tonight as I did riding last night. That very low ride-to-suck ratio is unacceptable. I'm hoping it will go up in coming weeks. Much of that time I spent simply thinking about how much I've been falling on those new clipless pedals, and thinking that perhaps I shouldn't go to the mountains this weekend, at least until I can get more graceful at falling. My neck still hurts from my not-so-graceful fall last night (yes, it was even at the playground, and I even managed to fall on the nice soft play turf with woodchips, but I did something odd to my neck in the process.)

So the moral of the story is that you should not take your children riding on dirt roads, even if they want to. If they insist, you should contact Amazon immediately for tire liners before proceeding. Lesson learned.


Lori said…
Eek, those really do look rather lethal. How does a bike stand a chance?!
kevandcan said…
Blah - no fun. Glad the slime is working for you and it has improved your diet.
raferb said…
You left out a step in the goathead flat prevention plan... first step is to throw away the tubes that came with the tires and get the extra thick 'puncture resistant' tubes, then liners, then slime... and even then don't ever ride on a dirt path in CO.

...Here's a shout-out to Angel at Shalom Bicycles on 6th Street in Frederick... When you do get another flat, he'll fix it for free.
Ken said…
Slime rocks for sure. And don't bother with those puny containers of it - get serious and go for the tractor-size jug of it at Home Depot!

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