Thursday’s lunch ride started off perfect. It was cold and overcast, but the biting windchill from the day before was gone. The trails were in great shape, and we had four fast guys pedaling up the hill. We had a brief rest at the top of the Creek Trail, and then we flew down the twisty singletrack. I was leading, and Jon was on me like a Sopwith Camel engaged in a dogfight.
But as Newton was so fond of saying, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Marcus’s rear tire blew coming out of the creek trail. Jon had a meeting to go to, so he wished us well and finished his descent. Jesse and I stayed behind.
Marcus runs the Stan’s No-Tube system, so he swished the sealant in his tire around, pumped it up, and we were on our way again! For about 30 feet. Marcus is no dummy, he knows that any system can fail, and he had an inner tube with him. He started muttering about bad rim tape, and began stripping his tire off the rim to prepare it for a tube, including dumping most of the sealant out onto the trail. Jesse decided he didn’t have time for this nonsense, and headed back down the hill.
As Marcus pulled the tire off though, he found the real problem. There was a nail sticking straight into the tire! How did we miss that? If he would have caught this in the first place, he could’ve pulled the nail out, and the tire most likely would’ve sealed back up. Too late for that now. The bead on the tire was now unsealed from the rim, and the sealant was slowly sinking into the earth. Marcus stuck the new tube in, gave it a hundred pumps, pulled the pump off the valve, and broke the valve stem core off. We couldn’t even find it, and we were back to a flat tire situation again.
I always carry a spare tube with me of course, so I offered mine. I pulled it off the shelf at work recently, forgetting why it had been sitting there for the last year or so. We soon discovered that my tube wouldn’t inflate, and that it was sitting on my shelf because it had a set of snake bite-pinch flat holes. So where are we at now? Plan C? Plan D? I’m losing track. I pulled out my patch kit, and Marcus quickly went to work. A little too hastily though, as the patch didn’t stick when we started inflating it. By now though, the tube was covered in slimy tire sealant, and there was no way we’d get another patch to stick to it. I also noticed Marcus’s hand was bleeding at this point.
Marcus converted the tire back to a tubeless setup, hoping that there would be enough sealant left to seal everything up. Try as he may though, his little emergency pump didn’t have enough pressure to seal the bead on the rim.
It was time to throw in the towel, so I rode back to Marcus’s shop to send him back a ride. Right as I was drawing a map of Marcus’s location though, Marcus strolled in! A friendly passerby took pity on him, and gave him a ride back.
Regardless of all the trouble though, we still had a great ride. The mechanical problems are just all part of the experience of mountain biking, and it can be fun to problem solve. Having said this, though, I’m going to patch a few more tubes and make sure my patch kit is fully stocked!
P.S. I should point out that Marcus fully maintained his composure throughout the whole ordeal, and in no way acted like the raving lunatic I made him out to be in the picture above!