Tired tires

Last week, I concluded my “Crazy Days” post with, “. . . and I’m hoping that’s the end of the excitement for the week!”  Apparently I tempted fate just a bit too much with that statement, as Friday brought more “adventures.”

Car tires
After the flat brought our attention to the fact that the 8-year-old tires (with ~55k miles on them) on our car were no longer road worthy, we did our research, selecting both a new tire and a local place for installation.

On Thursday morning, I made the appointment for nine on Friday morning, planning to bring work and a book and just wait there (for about 90 minutes) while they worked on the car.  I arrived at nine, handed over the key, and headed to the waiting area.

About thirty minutes later, one of the front office guys came in and told me that the new tires were still on a truck on their way to the shop, but that they should arrive in about forty minutes.  Thinking I’d still be out of there by 11am, I opted to wait.

Around 10:30am, with a dead laptop battery and no power cord (I didn’t think I’d be there long enough to need it), I went in search of an update.  Still no tires.  With lunch looming, and no definite end time, I accepted a shuttle ride home, after they agreed to deliver my car to me [at home] when the work was complete (which they don’t usually do).

Three-thirty rolls around and still no car.  At this point, it made more sense for Matthew to bike to the tire place on his way home from work and grab the car rather then them delivering it.  I called the shop to relay this change in plans; to make sure that we would, in fact, be getting new tires before the day ended; and to see if there was anything they could do for the inconvenience.  I mean, why do you SCHEDULE someone for an appointment without having the parts?

On the phone, they offered to give me their “tire protection plan” ($30 value) for free, as well as knocking $20 off the cost of the alignment.  Not quite what I’d been hoping for, but better than nothing.

Sometime between that phone call and Matthew arriving to pick up the car, someone must have had a change of heart, because they also ended up essentially giving us one of the tires, including installation, for free ($120 value).  Now that’s good service!  (With a 90k mile lifespan, these tires will probably outlast our car.)

In the meantime . . .

Bike tires
With Baby Jake permanently out of commission, I’m reduced to 1.5 bikes — BUB (my back-up bike) and Big Blue, which I consider half a bike because Matthew and I share it.

BUB has been sitting in the basement, unridden, since the end of April, when I loaned out the IBert seat in anticipation of Big Blue’s arrival.  I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get around to deciding on and acquiring Baby Jake’s replacement, so on Friday, I pulled BUB out of the basement.

Matthew and I were planning to meet for a yoga class on Friday evening, so I aired up BUB’s tires, did a quick check of the bike, and headed out.

I was about a mile into the two mile trip, when I heard a funny sound from the rear of the bike.  I had a split second to prepare to pull over and see what was causing the noise, when, BOOM!  The rear tire had a complete blow-out (I’ve had flats before on my bike, but never a blow-out like this).

Fortunately, I was traveling slowly when it happened and I was able to maintain control of my bike (may have also helped that it was the rear tire, rather than the front).  Unfortunately, I was a mile away from my destination (and from home) with a spare tube but no air pump, and a heavy hybrid bike.  Oops.

I called Matthew for a rescue ride (in the end, it worked out well that the car tires took forever, otherwise he wouldn’t have had the car at this point), and continued walking, lugging the bike, in the direction I’d been riding.  After awhile, I gave up attempting to carry the bike and wheeled it along, knowing that I was risking damaging the tire, but not really caring.

When I pulled the wheel off the next day, the tire showed signs of dry rot (I didn’t think the tires were that old, but I guess I was wrong), so instead of just patching or replacing a tube, I set out to buy replacement tires.  (I’m still not sure exactly what caused the flat — no signs of anything that punctured the tire and tube, nor anything obviously wrong with the rim.)

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve dealt with a flat (you get them much less frequently when you avoid riding on the edge of the roadway, which is where you find most of the debris that causes flats), so it took me awhile to put on the new tubes and tires.  I was starting to think I should have just paid someone at the bike shop to do it, but it’s a relatively easy task and a useful skill to have.

In the process, I couldn’t help but notice that BUB is due for a tune-up, and likely replacement brake and derailleur cables.  I’ll probably continue to use her for short trips, but limit rides to small streets and distances of no more than a mile until those issues are resolved.  This will limit my two-wheeled mobility on days when Matthew has Big Blue, adding some extra incentive to decide on Baby Jake’s replacement sooner rather than later!


  1. EcoCatLady says:

    Oy Vay! I’ve never heard of tires succumbing to dry rot. Perhaps this is something unique to more humid climates? Perhaps I’m just blissfully ignorant? I’ve never had a blowout either – that could be really scary, I’m so glad you weren’t hurt.

    This has been the year of flat tires for me. I’ve probably had at least 20 – not exaggerating. I got new tires (twice) switched to heavier tubes but the problem just kept getting worse. There’s a LOT of glass and goats head thorns on my route so I figured that it was just something I’d have to live with. Then after I got 3 flats, yes THREE on one ride I decided something else had to be going on. So even though the rims looked fine, I decided to replace the nylon rim strips with fabric rim tape and that seems to have solved the problem (knock on Formica.)

    Anyhow, if you still have the tube, you might want to inspect it and see if you can tell where it failed – if it was rim side or road side, that might tell you something. Here’s hoping your new tires do the trick!

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      I think dry rot is more of an issue in hot, humid climates. Also, high levels of air pollutants, especially ground level ozone (which, you guessed it, is high in St. Louis) also accelerate it.

      I did inspect the rim. The rim tape seemed okay, but I can see how a fabric strip might be more durable than the nylon one (pretty sure mine are the nylon), so I’ll look for that next time. Heard from two other people recently with a string of flats related to needing new rim tape.

      I think the tube failure was road-side, but it was massive enough that it was hard to tell for sure — definitely not something I was going to be able to patch! Since the tires were so low from non-use, I’m wondering if the tube got caught between the rim and tire when I aired them up.

      1. EcoCatLady says:

        Your theory seems probable to me. CatMan actually uses a strange ritual every time he fixes a flat or pumps up a new tube that is supposed to prevent that sort of problem. First he pumps it up – not all the way, but enough to inflate it fully. Then he lets the air out. Then he pushes the wheel down so the tire/tube is flat against the ground and rolls the wheel around one time. Then he pumps it up for real. In theory this removes any kinks or folds in the tube and ensures that nothing is caught between the rim. I can’t quite envision how exactly it works, but he swears by it – so perhaps he’s not crazy?

  2. PatrickGSR94 says:

    Careful on those 90K mile tires, as they do have a shelf life of something like 6 or 7 years. Not sure what it is exactly, you can look it up. After that shelf life they are unsafe for road use.

    I had a blow-out of one of my bike trailer tires while hauling groceries once, caused by either the Kenda tires or the plastic rims which do not have a hooked edge for the clincher tires. I now run them at 30-35 PSI instead of the recommended 40 PSI.

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