Pssst! Hey, buddy, wanna buy a tire?
About 10 days ago, I went in to work early in the morning, leaving the house well before dawn and riding on almost deserted roads. It was pleasant, but I really don't like getting up at 3:30AM in order to avoid traffic. It will not be a regular practice.
Just north of the base, my back wheel started to make the thumping noise that usually indicates a low tire. I took the Cateye light off the handlebar while I was still moving, but the tire seemed to be properly inflated. I was only yards from the entry gate, so the light went back on the handlebar and I didn't think much more about it.
I meant to check the tire when I arrived at the bike rack. The time was only seconds before my clock-in, so I hustled inside, forgetting about the tire.
On the way home, in daylight this time, the characteristic thumping started again. Obviously, the tire wasn't going flat and I didn't see any bulges. It was weird. My mind speculated on hub and axle failures, and whether it would be worthwhile to rebuild the Bianchi's wheel yet again. I was about halfway home. I wondered if Lyndsay could come and get me if the hub disintegrated. I needn't have worried.
The noise continued. Thump, thump, thump, THUMP, THUMP, BANG! Thump, thump, thump. The tire was flat.
When I pulled it off, I found a cut about an inch long directly under the tread. These Serfas Seca blackwall tires in 700x28 have an interior casing with 3 rubber sections applied to the outside, one tread section, and the 2 side sections. The tube was bulging out through the casing, yet the thick, uncut tread section kept it from being readily apparent.
I'm not complaining about these tires. They've held up well in regular commuting, and unlike most of my tires, they've lasted a little longer than average. They've been on the Bianchi for 2 years. Others seldom last more than a year, particularly gum walls because the ultraviolet light breaks them down when the bike is parked outside every day.
Of course, I didn't have a tire boot out there on the road. It's one of those things I keep meaning to include in the seatbag but never get around to doing. You can make a boot from an old tire or a piece of duct tape. I settled on a five dollar bill from my wallet. The rag count in currency makes the paper very strong, provided it doesn't get wet.
Jon down at 360 Sports, our new local bike shop, didn't have any 28mm tires so I had to wait until they arrived. In the meantime, I rode the single speed Centurion to work. That was illuminating. Five days of daily commuting made my knee pain return. Sadly, the Centurion will be retired from regular commuter service until I change the gearing. I'm planning to build another rear wheel on a Sturmey Archer hub. The Bianchi will be an all-weather bike from now on, so I purchased some Planet Bike fenders, sexy ones with stainless steel hardware and stays. Way cool.
Last night, I fitted a new pair of Vittoria Zaffiros in 700x28. Again, they're blackwalls. Let's see how long they last.