For the past several weeks, I’ve been considering writing a post about how great the tubeless setup (I’m using traditional rims, the Stan’s NoTubes system, and Geax Saguaros) on my mountain bike has been working out. After all, I had not had a single MTB flat in more than a year.
Each time I thought about writing that post, though, I backed away. That would be inviting a flat, and no mistake.
Now, however, I’m going to have to re-evaluate my superstition. Evidently you don’t even have to mention your good luck in avoiding flats to jinx yourself. All you’ve got to do is think about it in order to get one.
Just thinking about it’s enough.
As you’ve no doubt guessed, today when I was on a ride — coming down the South side of Hogg’s Hollow — it happened. I hit a big rock good and solid. My 20psi front tire (yes, I really have been riding at 20psi on my MTB, and quite happily so) was no match for it. I pinched open a nice 1/8″ cut, and the air immediately began hissing out.
When you’re riding with tires that use sealant, that hissing is your cue to get really religious, really fast. Because if you pray to Alfonzo, patron saint of liquid latex and inflated rubber devices, fervently enough, there’s a decent chance that the sealant will…well…seal. And then you can ride off triumphantly, knowing that where others would have been stopped cold by such a nasty puncture, you can feel free to merrily continue on your merry way.
This time, however, I would not be merry. No, not merry. Quite the contrary.
The hissing didn’t stop until there was no air in the tires. I rolled to a stop, confronted with a monumental decision:
Would the tire seal up if I put some more air in it and spun the tire around for a minute?
This question was monumental for the following reason: I had only one CO2 cartridge.
You see where I’m going with this? Here were my options, and potential consequences:
- Put in a tube. This, of course, was the safe approach. It would almost certainly work. But it would take time. And it would make a mess, in the form of a gooey, latex-soaked rimstrip I’d have to stow in my jersey pocket, not to mention all that surplus liquid latex sloshing around in the tire. Yuck.
- Put air in the tire and hope it seals. If it seals, I win! I get to continue on, blithely and somewhat smugly. But if it doesn’t seal, I’m super-screwed, because then I’m out of CO2, I’m four miles from home, I don’t have a phone with me, and I need to be home in an hour to take Susan to radiation.
So of course I put air in the tire, hoping it would seal. Because I am an idiot, that’s why.
Of course, it didn’t seal. Or rather: of course it didn’t seal.
Two miles of downhill hike-a-biking later (I bummed a ride for the final two miles, allowing me to avoid the acute embarrassment of walking my bike on paved roads), I’ve learned my lesson. No more gambling for me.
Unless I feel like I might win, of course.
PS: As I was walking my bike down the trail, two different riders passed me. I made eye contact and fully expected the traditional “Need any help?” question. Both times, the guys just rode on. No help offered. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.