The following is a sample entry to the first OWNERS CLUB competition. It’s OK but not that memorable. I didn’t want to set the bar too high.
ONE THORN TWO TUBES
Twenty kilometres from the end of an early season 200, near the Herfordshire-Cambridgeshire line, rolling out of Litlington to join the A505 for a short stretch, I started to feel a little jaded – a normal feeling for a fat, lazy, old bloke, at that stage of a ride, at that time of the year – as if my bike were stuck to the road.
As I prepared to swing onto the dual-carriageway there was a nasty bump as the front wheel hit a pot-hole. Within a few metres I realised I was running on the rim, the tyre had gone pop.
The hole in the road didn’t seem that big – but hey – no big deal. The name plate for the side road provided a handy leaning post while I flipped off the front-tyre. No need to remove the wheel on a pretentious Burrows bike where the hub is mounted on one side only, like a Vespa.
Pumping the old tube confirmed it was a compression puncture, a snake-bite. I installed a new one, inflated it, remounted the tyre, remounted the bike and pushed on into the frosty darkness.
Twenty minutes later, labouring up a hill I noticed my front wheel was softening, again. This time the failure was harder to trace, a tiny pinhole from a thorn trapped in the tyre. It was – I realised – the second puncture from the little vegetable item. The first compression puncture had happened because my tyre was already perforated and half empty.
A penalty of the pretentious bike is two wheels of different sizes. I’d run out of good small tubes and thought for a moment about jamming a ‘559’ in the ‘349’ cavity and trusting it to last the remaining ten miles, then remembered the old adage ‘a puncture is not an emergency’. I patched the last of my little tubes. The low temperature meant the solvent took a while to evapourate, during which time I tried to warm my feet with crazy moonlit dancing.
I was close enough to the time-limit to be watching the clock. The second stop – feeling the inside of the tyre like Hellen Keller, solitary glue sniffing, rattling my cleats on the glistening frosted tarmac – took nearly twenty minutes.
Next time you get a compression puncture from a surprisingly small impact, especially if you were finding the preceding kilometre unexpectedly hard work, double-check the snake-bite didn’t come because a previous puncture had deflated the tube to the point where it could no longer keep the rim above the road. That way you’ll limit yourself to one tube per thorn.