A New Day, a New Del Rey

While I was in Texas recently dropping off my son with my parents I picked up a bicycle. The day before we left I decided to take a quick look at craigslist for North Dallas. I think I put in a maximum price of $75, thinking that I would only find crappy bikes and really good deals. Some might argue that what I found lies somewhere in the middle, but to me it was solid gold. Right near the airport where I would be landing there was available a 1991 Fuji Del Rey in what appeared to be pretty good condition. The paint job caught my eye with it’s dark red flecked with black. And the stem was painted to match! Plus the price was right, so I got in touch with the seller and he was very helpful in arranging a meeting at an Office Depot about 15 minutes from the airport.

I told my family ahead of time that upon arrival my aunt, who would be picking me and my son up, would need to make a short side trip so that I could purchase yet another bicycle. I admitted to a certain level of insanity ahead of time helping to curtail some of their commentary. That plan mostly worked. The travel went smoothly and we arrived on time. I kept the seller updated as to our progress and he assured me that he would be there at the agreed-upon time, which he was! The bike did appear to be in great shape with just a few nicks and scuffs in the paint. The components were fairly mid range, but all functioning well. I was glad to see the cantilever brakes, because what little experience I have with cantilever brakes has been positive, and I was hoping to use this as my winter bike which can always use stronger braking. I had promised my mother that I would at least attempt to haggle, so I offered a lower price and when the fellow turned it down I just went ahead and paid him the asking price. That is how I haggle. Though, since I am normally buying bikes from people much closer to home, I often bring bread and pastries with me from work to give to people from whom I am buying bikes, or even people to whom I am selling bikes. Which means that sometimes somebody comes to look at a bike and decides not to buy it but still walks away with a loaf of bread and a box of sweets.

Anyway, I took the wheels off of the bike and fit the whole thing in my aunts trunk and we headed home. Upon arrival I put the wheels back on the bike and gave it a closer inspection. Everything still seemed good. The air in the tires was very low. I aired those up to the prerequisite 75 PSI and left them there to see how well they held air. Later after unpacking and giving proper hugs to my family members I took the bike on a quick spin around the neighborhood to test all the shifting and breaking and handling. I did the hands-free test to see if the frame was in good shape literally and figuratively, and it seemed to be just fine.

Upon closer inspection I was a little sad to see that the painted stem, while cool looking in its own way with its matching paint, seems a little cheap and chintzy. Almost even worth replacing. But everything else seems great. I even really like the Bio-Pace crankset. I’ve had good experiences with a number of bikes that came with Bio-Pace, especially for long rides. I ended up taking it for a ride to the grocery store to get ingredients for a lemon meringue pie I was to make, but in the end that was the longest trip I took on this bike while in Texas because the temperatures were punishing at pretty much all times of the day. I had lived there for three years in the past, and so I knew to expect this, but it still sucked.

As an aside, I spent part of a day a day in Fort Worth with Ez and my parents. I wanted to take him to the water gardens they have there because I remember them being both awesome and terrifying when I went there as a young boy, though I think I was there at night when it was lit up from under the water. It is also worth mentioning that they filmed the ending of Logan’s Run there, so that will be a film to watch upon Ezra’s return. But while wandering around that part of town I saw that they have a nice little bike share program, and I also noticed a number of dockless bikes hanging around like aloof teenagers.

The day before I was set to fly home I picked up a bicycle shipping box from a local bike shop in Fairview, Texas called Bicycles Plus. The staff there were all very friendly and helpful. They helped me dig through the trash can (full of empty beer cans and bicycle assembly scraps, so probably a pretty nice place to work, too) for some of the protective plastic pieces that I might need. Although in the end I never could figure out how those worked, so I packed the bike without them. And as to the shop’s name, the “Plus” was all other bicycle paraphernalia that one might find in any bike shop. I had been hoping for something amazing, like my vintage bicycle and fountain pen repair/stationery shop idea I’ve been mulling over for a few years. It’s mostly just a way to pay cost for the things I enjoy. And also a sure fire way to lose all my money.

I took the wheels off and let the air out of the tires and then set all that aside. I wrapped the whole bike in foam tubes that I got from the hardware store’s plumbing section. I also got a long-ish all-thread bolt with some washers and nuts which I used to create a protective spacer for the rear drop outs. The handlebars came off and the front fork was turned sideways so I was less worried about that part being crushed out of shape. I tied everything together with twine and tried a few different ways to fit it into the box so that I would be able to have some extra room. My original plan was to cut down the box to a size that would pass muster as a checked bag on my airline. However I was unable to get the size down much smaller at all, which I knew would result in a charge of $100 (as opposed to the $50 if it were closer to “bag sized”) and so I had to look into some shipping options. I had seen on the Internet that the going rate for shipping a bicycle seemed to be about $50, and it also seemed like FedEx was the delivery service to which that rate applied. However when I got to the FedEx store with my package in hand I was told that the price would be $133, and that was assuming I was shipping it to a business. So I got in my car with the bicycle, and figured out how bikeflights.com works. Long story short, by the time my father had driven me back to my aunt’s, which is less than a mile away, I had already signed up on their website, arranged for the bike to be shipped from that very FedEx store I had just left directly to my house in Portland, Maine, paid for it, and been emailed the packing slips. So when we did get home I just had to run inside and print off the slips, grab the packing tape, and attach the slips as directed. I didn’t even have to take the box out of the car to do it. Then we hopped back in, drove back to the store, handed over the box, got my tracking number, and went to dinner at Luby’s with my two aunts. At that point my parents left with my son to return to Oklahoma. Oh, and a big thunderstorm rolled through and cooled the temperature down quite a lot, so that when I got home and was finally free to take a bike ride without any other obligations or distractions I found myself without a bicycle.

The new Del Rey arrived on my doorstep six days later in pretty good shape. I have no pictures of it being packed or unpacked because I just don’t tend to remember things like that. Any damage done was my own fault, though I will still document it here for self-shaming purposes. The wheel hubs had poked through the box on either side even though I had reinforce to them with extra cardboard. It turns out steel is stronger than cardboard. But they didn’t seem to be damaged And the wheels are still pretty true. The only other thing I noticed was that, like an asshole, I had not wrapped the stem in foam, as I had the entire rest of the bicycle frame. I’m not sure if this is a subconscious thing related to my feelings about the stem. But either way the spokes on one of the wheels worked off some paint and probably also some metal from a small section of the stem. Otherwise I did a really good job and managed to ship myself a bike without totally fucking it up.

I got the bike back together and sorted out and have been using it to commute to work on less than optimal weather days, and so far so good. I would definitely like different tires, and it needs fenders and a few other bits and pieces. I’d like some larger flat pedals that keep my feet in place well. Yesterday I took a long ride with it and made the slightest adjustment to the seat, just moving it aft a couple of millimeters, and that tiny adjustment made a huge difference in how my hands and forearms felt after a ride. So sometimes it really is just the littlest change that’s required to make a bike more comfortable. I need to remember that when I’m too lazy to stop and make an adjustment, especially considering how long I will sometimes let that sort of thing go on.

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Easy peasy

I rarely forget to wear my helmet. This is mainly because I have made a habit of attaching it to either my backpack or my bicycle whenever I arrive at my destination. Chances are pretty much 100% that when I leave I will have the bag and the bicycle with me. But every once in a while I put the helmet down someplace else in my house and then all bets are off. The problem is that it is incredibly easy to just hop on the bike and go for a ride. That’s the whole point of a bicycle as far as I can tell.

At times I have been less mindful of my helmet, resulting in a few rides where I only noticed about halfway through that I had on neither helmet nor padded, fingerless gloves. My handlebars are not the softest, and rather than rewrap with something cushy I keep the classy-as-fuck leather sew-ups and wear the gloves. Now there was a time a couple of years ago when I probably would’ve turned around and gone back…depending on how far away I was at the time of the realization. But I am far past that now and generally just say screw it, while also trying to ride a little more cautiously than I might otherwise do. It’s not a contradiction if you do it right.

But here’s the funny thing, I have had two accidents where I hit my head in a way that, had I not been wearing a helmet, I probably would not have been riding around or even walking for a little while. One was in the winter at five in the morning on black ice, and so while it was quite sudden, you couldn’t really say it was unexpected. The other one was due to a combination of circumstances, all pretty random. But that pretty much sounds like life and to me it implies that such a thing could happen at any time. For that reason I usually try to wear helmet.

Even more than that, when I do find myself occasionally thinking, “I wonder if my head would be less sweaty if I didn’t wear a helmet. Maybe I’ll just give it a shot a couple of times now that the temperature is in the 90s,” I still can’t ever follow through. Just the fact that I’m considering not wearing a helmet makes it feel like the risk of an accident has gone up exponentially. I guess that’s how Big Helmet got to where it/they are today. But if I’m actively feeling less safe couldn’t that translate into being led confident, especially when it matters most? Could such an accident end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy? I’ll probably never know.

Thank You, Bike Fates!

I recently took a 50 mile round trip bikepacking adventure with my son on our tandem. When we got home he said he felt really good overall, but he had what bicycle scientists call a “sore ass”. I wasn’t too surprised.

When we originally got he tandem it had no rear seat and a fairly cushy Specialized saddle in front. I had some experience with that make of saddle, having purchased a beautiful late 80’s Sirrus a few years ago. But that bike got a new (used) B17 Narrow not too long after I started really riding it. Good ol’ Talulah was a wonderful bike, but I eventually sold her and the B17N to a MECA student named Joel who’d had his bicycle stolen. I haven’t seen that bike around town all winter, but it was still showing up last summer now and again. If it tells you anything about my feelings regarding that former Specialized saddle, when I sold Talulah I threw in the previous saddle without a second thought, and even though he hadn’t really asked for it.

I put Judi’s original saddle on the rear of the tandem, mainly for personal nostalgia reasons, and when my son complained that it wasn’t comfortable I attached a gel seat cover. This did the trick up to a point. He didn’t complain about his butt much, but he would sometimes say it felt loose, like he could feel the cover slipping around beneath him. I put my C17 on the front pretty quickly and it has remained there since. I considered putting the C17 on the rear so he could try it and see how it felt, but in the end I realized I needed to look for something that would have more give since he can’t see and anticipate the bumps from behind me and I just can’t miss, nor announce them all. Hitting a bump was always a much harder punch to the scrote for him than for me. The tandem came with a suspension seat post in back, but it was missing a bit and I didn’t trust my “fix” enough to put my kid on top of it.

I happen to have a B67 on my three speed, Frank the Tank, because…I put it there last year when I made some updates. But I also broke some spokes on Frank’s rear wheel when my empty panniers got sucked into the wheel. I had been meaning to rebuild that wheel and find an alloy replacement for the front (or build that, too). I’m still thinking about doing that, but further towards the back of my mind. Point is, I really like the way that saddle feels on rough, bumpy roads. Smooth ones, too. So I knew that something like that would be good for the rear of the tandem. Plus the kid rides it a lot, and he likes riding bikes in general, so getting him a nice leather saddle that will last him for decades, in all likelihood, was an easy sell for me. But I’m still talking about a kid who can’t be trusted to come home with both shoes every day. So probably not a brand new, full priced item here.

Just before we left for the ride to Freeport I found a Brooks Flyer, which is the sprung version of what I usually ride on Judi. I find my saddle to be fantastically comfortable. In fact, when I was finally ready to buy my first new Brooks I was torn between the sprung and unsprung(?) models. Ultimately I went with the original model because it seemed the most thoroughly vetted. But this meant that I would also finally get to try one of these babies! But most importantly, I knew my son’s saddle would end up being even more comfortable than my own, and isn’t that the dream of all parents, essentially?

This one was nearly new, looked great from the pics, and it was only 20 minutes away! I decided then and there that if the ride went well (and probably even if it sucked a little) and if the saddle was still listed when we got back, I’d make the guy an offer and see what happened. Which is what happened. But then after that he got back to me and we arranged a price and a meeting place and a time, after my workday ended. While I was on my break that afternoon I decided to hop on Craigslist and see what else was around in general, you know, for funzies. What to my wandering eyes should appear at the top of the bikes->for sale listings but a pretty nice looking road bike built for 10-12 year olds! I nearly spit my hummus all over the screen. I took the best look possible given the limitations of the listing and immediately contacted the seller. Guess where he was located…same damn town as the saddle I was picking up. And the dude was, like, “Come on out after your other thing. I’ll be home all day.”

The saddle ended up being a surprise, and the kid got a heads up about the bike since he’d be coming along to test it out and make sure it fit. After work I road home fast, shoved a pitiful amount of food into my mouth, grabbed the kid and the car and took off southwards. I arrived precisely on time because I’m fucking awesome in that way, and had to wait for the saddle fellow for a few minutes. But when he arrived he was as good as his word. The saddle looked great, and Ezra was moved by the gesture in the way I had kind of been hoping for without necessarily expecting. I gave the guy some bread and pastries from the bakery and took off for stop number two. Ezra sat in the back with his new Brooks under his butt, contrary to my suggestions.

When we arrived for the bike a short, woodsy drive later it turned out to be what I would consider an incredibly nice bike for a full grown adult, much less an 11 year old boy. It had a carbon seat post and fork for one thing. A nice set of Alex Rims. The components were decent and sturdy Shimano fare. And the whole thing was magnificently light. The handlebars had been replaced with straight bars and bolt-on horn grips. There were thumb shifters, which my son had never experienced, but he figured it out pretty quickly. He was a tad wobbly taking it out of the driveway and down the little dead end road, but when he turned it around and came back he was hauling ass and giggling. He really wanted to just keep riding it around right there, but I was starving and we were late for dinner. I paid the man the incredibly low asking price, gave him his bread and pastries, then loaded up the bike and went home.

When we got there we ate quickly and then went straight out to ride around the quietest part of the neighborhood. He was having such a good time that it was almost dark when we got home. We set up “obstacle courses” and challenged each other to maneuver around small stones and bits of wood. He had me pace him and tell him how fast he was going. It was good times.

I went over the bike that evening as best I could, but it was in good shape. I did some rudimentary tuning, then cleaned the drivetrain a smidge. He wanted to ride it to his camp the following day, so I mainly made sure that was going to go smoothly. It badly needed new brake pads, but otherwise it was well maintained.

Our ride that morning went well, but the shifting was giving him some trouble. He figured out which gears he had access to and we got there right on time. Ahem…awesome!

I picked up brake pad cartridges from the Gear Hub and showed Ezra how to change them out. Later that night I spent some time and tuned the bike fully, going over the brake calipers thoroughly at the end. I scrubbed the rims with steel wool as well to clean up and hopefully smooth out any damage from the old brake pads. They looked fine after that. Our next ride was more obstacles and racing and learning how to oversteer and lean into a turn. Plus I put the new saddle on once the bike was tuned and the kid really dug that. We’ll mark its setting on one side for that bike and the other side for the best setting on the tandem. That way we can hopefully switch it out quickly, easily, and accurately. Though he’s mostly interested in riding the new bike, so we’ll see how long before we get the chance to pop it on the tandem.

Bikepacking with the kiddo

School ended here on Wednesday, and I was off Thursday and Friday. My son has been talking about wanting to take the tandem and ride to Camden (I feel like we’re gonna get some good tongue twisters out of this idea) for about half the year, but I told him that a ride like that, even if you take a few days, requires some shorter practice runs to serve as training. He was down with that. Almost two years ago we attempted a trip to Freeport, one way, on our own individual bikes, but that was during a chillier time of year and we underprepared just enough to make it unpleasant. We still went fourteen miles before the wife came and picked us up. And we did have fun. He even mentioned some of the snacks we’d brought on that trip when we were planning this one.

In between he has done a lot of riding around with me, and we’ve gone on a few group rides that cover 10-20 miles. He’s into it, and he feels (properly) like a badass when we go out on the bike.

When I first got rid of my personal car I was limited by how far Ezra could ride if I didn’t want to do some sort of vehicular shuffle with my wife to get him from place to place. But since getting the tandem it’s been such a wonderful change. We can just chat, and boy does he love to chat! Plus that inherent closeness of a tandem means it’s not work to stay together or ride side by side, and no moving over and into single file occasionally when cars pass. PLUS I got him clipless shoes and pedals so he’s attached to the bike and can’t slack without me noticing. It is rarely an issue, though, to be honest. He’s pretty tough, and if he’s feeling tired I usually am too, so he helps me remember to stop and rest. We usually have great chats with folks we meet while we’re just chilling for a moment.

So what I’m trying to say is that he’s very familiar with the tandem, and he was super psyched to be doing this thing. He’s been listening to me talk about wanting to take a solo trip of a few days and just wander, but this ended up being the first such trip for both of us, and I’m so glad he was there to share it with me. He’s a lot of fun to hang out with.

I had originally planned to pack and prepare a day or two ahead of time, but with this being the last few days of school and things being so hectic all around, that didn’t much happen. But I did make a Don’t Forget list, and I only forgot a couple of things, nothing too important*. You don’t need forks or spoons to eat hot dogs and s’mores.

So on the day I woke up and gathered all the stuff I would need in a little pile. I tried to be as minimalist as possible, and I don’t think I brought anything we didn’t use. We brought a small, 2 person tent, a couple sleeping bags, most of a change of clothes, swim suits, and a few small things to keeps us occupied. I took my time loading up the packs and getting everything on the bike, so we ended up leaving after noon, but I had been aiming for 11am, so it wasn’t way behind schedule. I was concerned that the bike might handle poorly with so much extra weight loaded on the back, but it felt no different, really. The extra pounds might’ve even helped give us some momentum to keep rolling on the flats. We met up with my wife as we were getting onto Route 1 to pick up my helmet that I’d left in her car. Then we were off on a leisurely ride north.

We took Route 1 for a while, then veered onto 88 to keep the traffic light and the views scenic. That met back up with 1 in Yarmouth where we stopped into Rosemont market to see a friend (who wasn’t working), then had lunch at Otto’s pizza. After that we had a pretty straight shot into Freeport, although we did stop for a short rest around 3pm to try to play HQ, but the connection failed us.

We stopped at Bow Street market in Freeport to grab hotdog and s’mores fixins, then we had the final push through the hilliest part of the ride. We only had to walk the bike up one quarter of one hill, so I’d call that a success. We had really been casual in our pacing, so we arrived around 4:20, almost four hours after leaving Portland. We got checked in, found our site, unpacked and set up the tent, then headed to the office and café for fire wood and some French fries. However, without thinking we got the fries first, and by the time we were done the office was closed, so we couldn’t get firewood. My son stopped a gentleman on an ATV and I asked if we could get some wood, but the guy said he had a bunch and he lived nearby, so we told him our site number and he brought us a bundle for free! Thank goodness, too, because we had no other means of cooking our meal that evening.

We got back, built our fire, then chilled out and goofed around. We wandered down by the water and found some horseshoe crab shells. I taught Ezbert to shuffle playing cards. Then we cooked a couple of pouches of veggies in the coals and some corn on the cob, and finally we made hotdogs. We rode back to the office once again to wash up and do our bathroom stuff (*which was very minimal since I left behind all toiletries). We hung out a bit more, then climbed into our tent and I read a chapter from The Tao of Pooh (my father is currently reading it, so I’m refreshing my memory in order to answer any of his questions. And Ez was interested), then turned off our cool, inflatable, solar powered lamp and went to bed.

Now, I did make a couple obvious mistakes in my planning and execution. I had two sleeping pads, one twin sized and one queen sized. The queen wouldn’t fit in my little tent. *Rather than look for another small one, or even just buying an inflatable pool floaty, I opted to let the kid have the pad and I would just sleep on the softest part of the ground. Well guess what, there IS no softest part of the ground. So I lay there zoning out until I finally got exhausted enough to fall asleep around 2am. Ez did a better job.

We woke up at 7:30 and I sent the kid out to do some bird watching while I caught 30 blissful minutes of sleep on the pad. Then we packed up much of the camp and went over to the café for some breakfast sandwiches and yogurt. The food here is really good, and the fries were especially so. After that we loaded up the bike and headed on out for our ride home.

My phone was almost dead, so no pics of the return trip. You’ll just have to trust that I made it home and am not currently wandering through some alternate dimension with my son, solving mysteries and using our newly found super powers for good (mostly). Would that this hoodie were a time hoodie!

Once again we had to walk up one of the hills, but again just a little bit at the end, and it was the last hill before we were back in Freeport. We stopped at the market to get snacks and some Gatorade, and the kid ended up chatting with the lady who had checked us out the day before and telling her all about our trip. She was also a cyclist and was very enthusiastic, which suits Ezra well. Once we got back on the road properly we ended up just taking route one all the way home. We stopped to rest a few times but ultimately made it home in under two hours. Our last stop was just before Back Cove at a lemonade stand run by two little girls. No ice unfortunately, but it still hit the spot, or at least somewhere near the spot. When we pulled into the house I quickly unloaded everything off the bike and took it upstairs. We checked ourselves over for ticks, and then showered and finally brushed our teeth.

I have to say, because if I don’t people might think I am torturing my child, that on the way there and especially on the way home my son kept repeatedly yelling about how much fun he was having and how glad he was that we were doing this. It really made me feel like I was doing something right as a father. To be fair that is not always the case. His one and only complaint was that his butt hurt by the time we got home. This is not a huge surprise since I don’t have any really appropriate seats for long distance writing that I can put on that tandem. But even before we went on this ride I was already searching for something that I knew would work well for him in the stoker position. As luck would have it I found that and something perhaps even better the following day, but that is a story for another time.

My son and I always manage to have fun when we are out on adventures together, and this was no different. Later this summer he wants to do some more long rides that involve camping, so here’s hoping I can get my shit together and make that happen before school starts up again.

Working on a Wifely Wehicle

I recently purchased two vintage Peugeot bicycles from their original owner. One was a U-08 from the mid 70’s and in nearly perfect condition. The man told me he’d bought it and then put it into storage and moved away for a good long while. Then he moved back, took it out and had it serviced, then forgot about it again. It’s barely been ridden and it shows. But that also means it’ll need the full treatment to make sure everything is ready to ride and to insure it’ll last for decades to come.

The other one is a sweet mixte, pearlescent white with black pinstriping.

That one is about the right size for my wife, and it just might be cool enough, cute enough, and comfortable enough that she’ll want to ride it around a bit. Just to up the stakes I’m gonna take the sprung Brooks saddle from Frank and put it on this bike since Frank is out of commission until I can build him some new wheels, I think. I took apart the cottered B.B. and was all set to order a nice, simple, sealed replacement, but I couldn’t locate one with the right specifications, this being a vintage French bike. So I cleaned everything up and sat it all aside for the rebuild.

It had 9mm cotter pins, which the internet could lead you to believe is unusual for a French bike. I know because long ago I looked up “what are the most common sizes of cotter pins for vintage bicycles?” and was told that it was 8.5mm and 9.5mm. So I got those sizes. But luckily Peter over at Port City Bikes had a scant few left in the right size, and he even sold me two for a fair price! I grabbed some new handlebars and brake levers from the Gear Hub, and that should be all I need to get it in riding shape. I can fine tune it after that, maybe get some different pedals. Maybe saw off the ends of the cotter pins once they’ve had time to really work their way in there and I’ve tightened them down as much as I’m gonna. All the pins I’ve found are way longer than their original counterparts. Not sure when that changed. Probably before I was born.

The jockey wheels on the rear derailleur were both broken. I don’t know if that means this bike was ridden hard, but it doesn’t look like it otherwise. Besides a little dirt and grime it’s in pretty good shape. I replaced the rear DR with something similar in style, but I couldn’t find a Simplex.

Tomorrow my plan is to reassemble the headset and try to get the new stem and bars set up properly. I gotta do the hubs, too, especially now that I got my latest freewheel removal tool!!! Plus whatever else I need to do to make it rideable.

Overhauling Judi’s Freewheel + updates

While I was working in the attic with Ezra he noticed that Judi was quite rusty in parts, mainly because I put her away without properly scrubbing everything down. And so I took apart her drivetrain and he helped me scrub. But when I went to reassemble the rear wheel I noticed that it felt a little loose and wobbly. The middle gears had felt a little strange when riding lately, and that explains it. So I took apart the freewheel and overhauled it. Now it is running smoothly.

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Wow! I discovered this post in my drafts. Seems like I wrote it (mostly) and then forgot about it for…shit, like, half a year. So there ya go. I had put Judi away for the winter a little earlier than usual since she had developed a flatting problem. It turned out that I had some crushed glass in the front wheel, so I assumed that was the problem. I ended up getting new tires, the same Paselas but with the extra bit of flat resistance. When the weather got good I put the new tires on with new tubes. I pumped up the first one, set it aside, and as I turned to the rear wheel I heard that damned “pfffffffffftttttsssssssssssss…” I won’t lie, I got unreasonably upset by this. But at that point I said fuck it and I went ahead and pumped up the rear tire. I had originally planned to just ride the bike to work the next morning, but since it was getting late and I had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning I decided to just deal with the front tire the following afternoon.

But of course when I got home from work the next day I found that both tires were flat. Since I had already gotten unreasonably mad the day before, in fact within the last 12 hours, I decided to stay calm and treat it like a mystery that I had to solve. A really irritating mystery. It seemed that all the punctures were now coming from the inside, so the first thing I did was to very carefully go over all of the spokes to see if anything was poking up. I also looked and felt along every millimeter of the rim for any rough spots, and did end up sanding down a couple of questionable areas, though I don’t know if that was actually necessary. I then replaced the front tube again and followed through till it was pumped up to 80psi. While I was just starting to futz with the other wheel, satisfied in a job well done (that’s not true, I actually sat there with my eyes fixed on the front wheel just waiting for something to go wrong) the tire went flat. I can’t say how mad I got at this point because I blacked out. But when I came to later I discovered that I had angrily, but successfully, removed the tires and tubes from the rims and found the new punctures, also located along the inside of the tubes.

At this point I called my friends at the gear hub to see if they had any advice on what else I should check. They suggested that it might be the rim strips and that perhaps new ones made out of cloth would work better. Luckily they had those so I ran over and grabbed a pair. When I got home later I used alcohol to clean the inside of the rims thoroughly, then I carefully applied the new strips. When the time came to assemble everything again I decided to try an experiment. Some of the tubes got punctures also along the side wall where the tube itself had a seam. I was worrying that perhaps I was using cheap tubes and that this was part of my problem. I had gotten a set of 10 made by Avenir but they seemed less stretchy and relatively brittle compared to the Kendas that I had had in the tires originally. So I used yet another new tube in the front but in the back I just use a patched up Kenda tube that had originally been in that tire before all of the flatting began. At this point it’s been a couple of months and I have not had any issues with the tires. But during the first week after all of this business I was very careful riding on them and always had a new tube and a patch kit on me. Though I should probably do that all the time anyway.