Distance: 76.2 miles. Elevation: 3839 ft
I rode into the Marden Library car park just before 9 AM to find it swarming with cyclists. 16 had turned up for today’s ride with the Sunday Intermediates. That’s the biggest group I’ve seen out for a club ride.
I was out on my , which still had my carbon wheels on and tubular tyres. I knew I was taking a risk by doing that. If I were to get a puncture all I had was some to squirt into the tyre! I wasn’t carrying a spare tub, so if the worst happened, like a catastrophic failure of the tyre, I would be stuffed!
The weather was sunny spells with a northerly wind so we had a fairly easy ride down there. After wondering how the small café in Rye Harbour was going to manage to accommodate us, another rider and I made a plan to make sure we arrived at the café ahead of everyone else! That plan never came to fruition; several miles before we reached Rye, I got the uneasy feeling that my front tyre was getting softer. It still seemed to be riding reasonably well but when I looked down it looked like it was getting flat where it met the road. I carried on riding, hoping I could make it to the café and look at it there. But I could feel it getting softer. I dropped behind the group and pulled over. The other riders were unaware I had stopped so carried on into the distance. I got off, checked my tyre; yes it was soft, but I thought I might still be able to limp to the café, so I carried on riding, trying to work out which direction the rest had taken as I entered Rye. Luckily, one of the riders had realised I had ‘gone missing’ from the bunch and had doubled-back to find me. When I met him I pulled over again because I knew I wasn’t going to make it to the café. After a failed attempt at using his full-size pump, which resulted in letting all the air out my tyre, I pumped it up as best I could with my pocket-sized pump. We then virtually sprinted to the café, averaging 20+ mph on the long road from Rye to the Harbour.
By the time we arrived the café was packed with the other riders. There were so many of us that the owners said that it would take far too long to do cooked meals, so we all had to have cakes of varying descriptions. I’d had nothing to eat until that point in the day and I had been looking forward to some ‘real food’, not cake! I had a piece of flapjack which I scoffed down quickly so that I could have a look at my tyre.
I don’t think the tyre had actually suffered a puncture. I suspect it was leaking around the valve or something. When I looked at it I noticed that the valve extender wasn’t screwed in as tightly as it could have been so I tightened it. That could have been the source of the leak but I wasn’t going to take any chances, so I removed the valve core and squirted the tyre sealant gunk into the tub, replaced the valve and inflated the tyre, hoping it would do the job. In the course of doing this I had reason to spin the wheel, and the spokes caught my knuckles. Only a few minutes later I realised that my knuckles were bleeding.
I’d had the same thing happen last year with my Mavic wheels when I was getting the bike from the back of my car. The spokes on most new wheels are like blades and can easily cut your skin. I heard a story that some riders once used their wheels to slice a cucumber like this!
The ride back was into the wind and at a pretty relentless pace, and also involved an additional 1000 ft of climbing compared to the ride there. I was finding it quite tough, not helped by a slightly sick feeling in my stomach that was full of only cake! The good news is that my tyre stayed completely inflated right to the end, so that seems to have fixed the problem. By the time I got home I was knackered; it felt like I had just done a 75-mile sportive!