For the second week in a row I’ve made myself leave work “early” around 5:00pm so I could meet my sweetie when she gets home from work and join her for an afternoon ride on the tandem. It was something I started to do last week after I initially declined an invitation from Debbie to do an after work ride Monday a week ago, and then realized the err of my ways.
I tried to make up for it by volunteering to leave work on time instead of working late on Tuesday so we could get in a midweek ride from the house and the therapeutic value to both of us was huge. We had a lovely — albeit hot — early evening ride of about 25 miles with 1,100′ of climbing (par for the course around where we live), followed by a nice light dinner. We repeated this same routine on Wednesday & Thursday, but took off Friday so that we could undue all of our good behavior with some bad behavior!! Saturday also included another nice ride from the house, but Sunday gave way to the need or at least Debbie’s desire for a “day of rest” which I documented in my other blog, ‘Riding Two-Up’ with an entry entitled “Nice Day on the Harley“.
However, to make an already long story short, I knew that the rear tire on our Calfee was getting pretty close to being shot. In fact, it was probably “shot” a few weeks and a couple hundred miles ago, noting it was very squared off… so much so that it was starting to degrade the handling. But, for some reason I decided to run it until the inner casing began to show through.
As I got the tandem ready to go for tonight’s ride and was putting air in the tires I saw a little white spot that, upon closer inspection, was the inner casing peeking through the tread compound. About this same time Debbie came out to the garage all ready to ride so I suggested she go back in the house and enjoy the cool A/C and Olympics for another five minutes while I replaced the tire. About five minutes later I had the bike ready to roll and off we went.
Well, we made it about 100 yards before the FRONT tire started to go flat while bombing down the first hill from our house at about 20 mph and attempting to make a 90 degree turn onto the street out of our community. I hate getting a flat front tire. What made this one worse was that I sort of had a premonition that I was due for a flat.
If you look closely at the same photo with the worn out tire above, you may be able to see where a small tear developed at the base of the inner tube’s stem. It’s one of those annoying flats that kind of sneak up on you. Although, as I pulled the valve chuck off the front tire tonight I had this feeling that the front tire / tube had been “in service” for quite a while and it was getting close to the point where it’s a matter of when, not if that valve stem tear would develop. Tonight was the night.
We hiked back up the hill to the house and while Debbie “cooled her jets” inside the house I did a quite tube replacement and had us ready to go again in about the same 5 minutes that it took to deal with the rear tire.
Our evening ride was otherwise uneventful and rather enjoyable. We rode a shorter than normal loop of just under 20 miles given that we’d lost about 20 minutes of our ride time due to the mechanicals.
As if often the case when I finally chuck a worn-out rear tire, I was amazed at how much rolling resistance increases once a narrow bicycle tire begins to get squared-off and worn out. Our ride tonight on the new rear tire was noticeably much faster and easier than the four prior rides which saw us getting progressively slower as that tire neared the end of its life.
I think I’ll make a point of changing that rear tire a little sooner next time.