27 November 2009

Fixing flats in the rain

November to January (or thereabouts) is Northern Tanzania's "short rains". Sometimes the short rains happen and sometimes they don't. This year the weather people have been warning of "El nino" type rains. Although it is not to that proportion we are having a good short rainy season so far.

For last week's Wednesday morning ride I awoke to the end of long night rain. I figured the sky was rained out for a few hours. I suited up and headed out the door trying to stay out of sticky mud on the paths to the highway.

I choose to cut across Burka Coffee Estate on foot paths and dirt tracks. Just before the small gate my rear tyre went low. As I have been having more punctures recently with these old 700x28c tyres, I should of patched the tube instead of just replacing,but I figure when I am with the group there will be other tubes. I walked through the narrow gate and changed the tube as a light rain fell. No problem as I have a rain jacket on.

As I continue to ride through Burka it starts raining heavily. I am only a bit behind time when I hit the club rendezvous point. The side of the road is deserted. Anyone would be crazy to be standing there waiting. So either they are under the school guard house eaves (they aren't) , or they have taken off. I push on. I guess the third option is all 40 odd club riders took one look outside and went back to bed.

I can't manage 30kph even. From the waist down I am soaked but warm enough. In its own way the ride is fun. Maybe fun is not the right word. I enjoy it, just like when you are riding hard and hurting but one enjoys it. Maybe it is the oxygen.

After 15km it is still dumping and I ride straight past the Monduli turn off.

I ride down into a river valley. The normally dry river is 5 feet of chocolate colored boiling water. It is pretty cool to watch, but I keep thinking of the erosion implications. I make a U -turn and start riding back up hill out of the valley.

I notice my tyre is flat again.

I also note:
-it is raining hard
-I have used my spare tube without patching the previous tube.
- you cannot put a patch on when the tube is wet and it is raining.


I have brief moments of panic. Traffic is sparse today, especially buses, but I have no money for a bus anyway. I should be on time to the office today. I am 25km from home. I am 1/2 wet and slightly cold after stopping. The panic is fear of a major inconvenience, it might take me hours to get home.

Taking stock I consider carrying the bicycle to a hut I see 1/2km off the road. I am on a major highway and every 10 minutes or so there are cars, but even if I get a free lift to town I have to get home on the other side of town. The next building is 3km up the road.

Ahh, there is bridge over the swollen river! Under the bridge it will be dry. I walk through ankle deep mud to get under the bridge and find a place where the mud is hard.

It takes a half hour but I manage to dry the two tubes and patch them both, with only one repeat. I get back on the road and within five minutes the rains have cleaned the mud off my shoes and ankles.

It isn't pouring now but it is still raining. I contentedly cycle on.

I am not sure what was really going on. I kept having tyres go flat. It didn't help that potholes were covered with water, so it was hard to tell whether standing water in the road was just a thin puddle or a "pinch flatting" pothole. I also have been experimenting with slightly lower air pressures. I had another flat, replaced the tube and rode another 10km and it went flat again. It was going down slowly so I pumped and road again looking for shelter to patch the two tubes. Just before the meeting point I pulled into a outdoor bar and fixed a tube .
I made it home OK.

Later I learned that the other guys were calling back and forth asking about if they were going and they all went back to bed.

02 November 2009


Life is sometimes lived in circles. We evolve and change and end up the same. We go for bicycle rides in circles. My bicycle dress and what I eat on long rides has gone in a circle.

When I started to ride a bicycle in the mid 90's:
-I sneered at the Lycra clothes , that was for racers and wannabe racers, and wore normal shorts.
-I ate whole and natural foods on rides and granola for breakfast.

Then I got into racing and more riding :
-I bought $80 Lycra shorts, and hi tech wicking jerseys, gloves.
- I bought hi tech energy drinks, and gave up sugar. I used honey instead of GU.

I rode some more:
-now I gave up on the Lycra shorts and wear whatever shorts are in the drawer and some thick underwear that Bernice bought. That combo works as good as the Lycra and now I have pockets to put little stuff in. But the main reason to change is I was tired of looking like a dork when I got off the bike.
- Dr. Jim Bingham said processed sugar is the same as honey, so when I can afford I take snickers on bike rides, tang juice instead of honey juice. Junk food looks pretty good.