Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Ripped Sidewall to Boot

Just 2.5 miles north of Three Bridges I was climbing out of a wash crossing when I heard the hiss. I tried to tell myself that it was just a puncture, but the tire was completely flat before I could dismount. One of those scabby rocks embedded in the trail had reached out and slit the sidewall of my back tire, a lightweight Vulpine.

I had a replacement tube, but no spare tire, so I'd have to install a reinforcement (a boot) to prevent the new tube from protruding through the  rip and either blowing out or getting damaged by some other trail debris. Since I wrap all of my bike tools in short sections of innertube, I decided to use one of those pieces--the one I keep the tire levers wrapped in--to back up the slit.

I provided trailside entertainment for other trail users. A couple of runners that I'd passed near the trailhead pulled up; they had reached the turnaround point in their five-miler. Not typical runner physiques. He was shirtless with a broad, muscled back and a slight gut. She was more curvaceous than girl runners tend to be. But both had made excellent time on the trail and seemed fresh enough to run quite a bit further. He was sporting Vibram KSOs and while he'd done some distance on pavement in 'em, this was his first trail run. His feet were not particularly happy with the hard, rocky trail surface, but he figured they'd get used to it.

As I was finishing up, along came a fella on a blue Redline Monocog. He offered assistance, which I declined, and complimented my bike, which I accepted. "Glad to see that somebody else out here is crazy enough to ride this full-rigid!" was his heigh-ho Silver line. Heh. I don't need suspension, just tougher tires.

I got the tire back together with its reinforcing boot and pumped it up, all the while expecting it to blow out. The tear opened up a bit like a coin purse, but did not rip. Very gingerly, I rode down to Posta Quemada Ranch, where I picked up pavement to Pistol Hill Road. I stopped several times to inspect the repair, which held admirably. I opened up my pace on Old Spanish trail and averaged 20mph all the way to the rendezvous at Broadway and Pantano.

I might be able to salvage the tire by gluing in a more robust boot, but it's probably not worth it. I'd never trust the repair, and the tire is one of the wire-bead OEM jobbies that came with the Redline D440, so it's heavy and fragile. Probably time that I remounted the trusty Panaracer Ram-pazhes anyhow.

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