Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Victoria Pendleton

Victoria Pendleton
Originally uploaded by twotone666
Discovered this young lady quite recently, she is most definitely the sexiest female, I've seen to date, on a bicycle

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

I think we're back on course (fingers crossed).

Picked up my Subway 8 from Halfords on Saturday, only managed a quick tour of the car park, and no ride on Sunday, so it was straight back to commuting on Monday morning. Disaster, same thing happened, got a flat at roughly same distance from work. Couldn't face asking a workmate, yet again, to come out and rescue me, so got a taxi to deliver myself and the bike to work. At least I was on time, 1st time in 5 attempts, all due to flats on the back wheel, what is going on?

Couldn't find any sign of a puncture externally? Once 09.00 am., came I was on the phone to Halfords, told them I'd be taking another taxi, again at their expense, and would be dropping my bike to them, during my break at 11.oo am., for them to sort out, and FIX!!

I rang them again in the afternoon, they said the inner tube had split, and they could not find out why? That they had decided to go back to basics, they had removed the green slime, the self sealing inner tube, and the new rim tape they had put in?? That they had put back ordinary rim tape, and a bog standard inner tube, that they had done this because they could find nothing at all wrong with the wheel itself, ergo it must be down to one of the things that had been added. I understood their logic, and said I'd pick up the bike on my way home from work.

When I eventually picked it up, the manager had a quick word with me, and said that if it punctured again, in similar circumstances, i.e., no intrusion from the exterior of the tyre, I would have to take it to an independent bike shop for a report as to what was causing the problem. I pointed out to him the opposite fact, i.e., that if I did not get a similar puncture, the cause would be found, i.e., Halfords faulty installation of either the green slime, or their " manufactured " rim tape set-up.

The good news is, I haven't had a repeat flat, (touch wood), since, and that's 2 days now, 44 miles later. It's been pretty stressful mind, riding all the time with the fear a puncture could strike, at any time, and constantly looking down at the rear wheel, imagining the tyre feels soft???

I'm sure I'll need counselling for awhile. Perhaps, Halfords should be made to foot the bill.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Where do I begin? What causes punctures?

What a week this has been, and no mistake. I've been back and fall to Halfords, my local bikeshop, or LBS, as some of you fellow bloggers refer to it. Why? As usual it's a long story, which I've partly related to Svenny, after his comment to my last post, and by the way Svenny, hope I haven't confused you, by using my real name, on my return comment.
But getting back to my travails of this past week, it goes like this....

Last Sunday, on my cycle ride to work, I got a puncture in my back wheel, about 3 miles from my workplace, I was fortunate, I was able to get one of my colleagues to come out and pick me, and the Subway 8 up. At work, first I fixed the puncture, then punctured the inner tube again, when one of my tyre levers broke, whilst popping the tyre back on. I patched this new puncture, but when I pumped it up, the patch broke. Consequently I had to get my eldest son to come out and drive me and the bike home after work.

What caused the original puncture?? It would seem, no that's incorrect, it was caused by poor workmanship. The last time I went to my LBS, due to a puncture in my front tyre, I had a new inner tube, and extra puncture protection, in the form of a strong plastic strip, inserted into both front and rear tyres. That was done last Saturday, I thought I was then raring to go Sunday.

It wasn't to be, because the subsequent puncture, on the Sunday, was caused by the plastic strip overlapping, which formed an edge inside the tyre, which after 8 miles, cut through the inner tube.

On the Monday I took the bike to my LBS, they fixed the puncture quickly, and got rid of the offending edge, installed another inner tube, all gratis.

Tuesday, I was on a short shift, and had decided to cycle all the way to work. I duely set off at 06.00 am, allowing myself 2 hours, for the journey. I cycled by road to Cwmgwrach, then picked up the canal towpath, by Union mine. I was able to stay on the towpath via the new aquaduct, at Ynysarwed, through Tonna, Neath, Giant's Grave, and on to Briton Ferry, where I joined the cyclepath alongside the old A48 road by McDonalds. Only I didn't pass McDonalds, I got another puncture, yet again, in the back tyre.

Once more, I got a colleague to come out and rescue me, I now was known, in the Welsh vernacular, made famous by Dylan Thomas, in "Under Milk Wood", e.g., Dai the post, and so on, I am "Curtis the flat". A bit of a comedown from my rugby playing days when I was known as "Curtis the crash", for my tackling prowess. At work, I, once more, examined the tyre for any kind of penetration, finding nothing, I rang my LBS and complained.

They said for me to get the bike to them, and they'd sort it out. Borrowing a car, I should say van, I took the Subway 8 to them, during my break, and picked it up, on the way home. Once more they found the problem, the rim tape had moved, (presumably when they fixed the puncture last time?), installed a new inner tube, and hey presto!

Wednesday morning, as usual I parked the car at Aberdulais, to cycle the rest of the way to work, I got as far as Baglan, 2 miles out from my destination, when I was struck again with a flat back tyre, a third colleague volunteered to pick me up, and I rewarded them all with a bacon and sausage buttie, when I, eventually arrived, I'd got my flat, this time, outside a local bakery. As soon as 09.00 am arrived, I was on the phone to my LBS, Halfords, complaining bitterly, They agreed to pay for a taxi to get me and the bike to their shop at midday, on my break, so that they could solve the problem!!

Yet again, the now very red faced bike mechanic, and the store manager went about taking the back wheel off, examining the tyre for any incisions, shards of glass, anything, to get them off the hook. Finding nothing, they set about taking the tyre off, crefully looking for any intrusion from outside..... once again nothing. Then they had a really good look at the inner tube, to find a tiny hole, which would have sat next to the rim tape??

The new rim tape was removed, a layer of electricity tape was wound round the rim circumference twice, a new rim tape, a new inner tube, and more plastic puncture proof strip were all installed, free of charge, while the manager apologised and refunded my £20 for the taxi ride. I cycled back to my car, feeling very paranoid about having a puncture, loaded the bike up and returned to work. Needless to say, my paranoia was such, that I drove home, that night.

Thursday, I had a great trip into work on the Subway, my colleagues clapped and cheered, that I had made it, without a flat. The day flew by, and I was looking foreward to my return trip, and as my son, Tierloch, wanted to be picked up at Aberdulais at 07.00 pm., I knew I had alot of time available to make a big diversion, to take me all along the Aberavon seafront, add to that, that the sun was blazing down from a clear blue sky, on what seemed a perfect evening. Leaving time came, my relief signed in and I was off.

I didn't make it to the seafront, didn't make a mile, I felt the tyre softening, 1st I thought I was imagining it, but all at once all the air had departed from the rear tyre, for the 4th time in 4 days. Perhaps, I thought, I could pump it up, I'd just had a bit of bad luck, anyway I succeeded in re-inflating it, and continued my trip, returning to the shorter route, while at the same time convincing myself, that it was a slow puncture, and if need be, I could pump it up a couple of times on route to my car. Only managed a mile or so, before I had to try to re-inflate it again, try being the operative word, it would not hold any air at all.

Using my mobile phone, I rang for a taxi, the same firm I had used, the day before, to get to Halfords, I must be getting famous , I thought to myself, everybody knew, or had seen, or had given a lift to, or had heard about "Curtis the flat". The taxi said they'd be with me in 15 minutes, while I waited, I examined the outside of the tyre for the tell tale damage of a puncture, to find nothing. Then I rang Halfords, to tell them that, yet again, the unthinkable had happened, and I would see them in the morning, and by the way, they had another taxi fare to pay for.

It's Friday evening now, the Subway is still at Halfords, they say they've fixed it, but the mechanic is putting a few miles on it, to check it's really OK, this time, and that it stays inflated overnight etc.. We shall see.

I told them this morning, that there has been one common factor throughout this extended fiasco, the back wheel, that they replaced a couple of weeks ago., because of the problems I was having with the internal hub gears?? I think they should replace that with a new one, but we shall see what happens tomorrow.

I really must learn to touch type, it's taken me ages to post this, and I've so much more I'd like to add, but Elizabeth is all on her own in the front room, so I'll have to go.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Alot to tell you.

Last time I cycled was Sunday, it's now Thursday, not a happy so and so. Cycling home from work Sunday evening I had my second puncture in 3 days, it was the rear tyre, so to save time I rang my eldest son, Keiron, to come and rescue me. This, in itself, was a difficult process, as my car with the bike rack on, Keiron doesn't have one on his, was in Aberdulais, I was at Briton Ferry, and Keiron was at home in Glynneath. So Keiron had to drive to Briton Ferry, pick me up, while I left my bike locked to a pub sign, for security, drive me to Aberdulais, for me to pick up my car, he then drove on home, while I drove back to Briton Ferry, to pick up my bike.

Well it all went to plan, and I was able to pick up my Subway 8 , safe and sound, and transport it home. I've said many times, in this blog, I'm no bike mechanic, even mending a puncture, is a major exercise for me. The previous puncture, Conor, my other son, helped me to fix, he made it look so easy, but that was the front wheel.This time, because it was the back wheel I decided to take it to Halfords, for them to repair. The gears were still not "right" anyway, I'd taken the bike back 4 times, for that problem already.

Sadly, I couldn't get there till yesterday, the lads at Halfords said they'd fix the flat and check the gears, I went for a cup of coffee, they said to come back in half an hour. When I came back they said there was a problem with the gearing, and would take the internal hub apart, and sort it out. I told them I hadn't a problem with the gears until they'd serviced the bike, they said they'd ring me when it was ready.

At about 4.00pm., that same afternoon they rang to say it was ready, and they'd replaced the whole back wheel, which included a completely new Nexus 8 hub, free because the bike was less than 12 months old, and no charge for labour. All I had to pay for was a new inner tube, two tyre liners, which I'd asked for, to provide even more puncture resistance. To think, I had been thinking, my puncture problems were over, after approx 3 months without one, I'm seriously thinking of sending away for those solid rubber inner tubes, I read about last year. Punctures are my major turn-off when I'm cycling, something I dread.

The amount of glass on the cyclepaths is no joke, it seems to be done out of pure spite, just the type of society we now find ourselves living in, I suppose. I'm afraid that, to avoid the glass, I'll have to ride on the road, where any glass is soon cleared by the traffic. Anyway, if I get a puncture any time soon, I'll be sporting solid tyres, as soon as I can.

Been off all week, took 3 nighshifts off, had a phonecall today, asking me to work tomorrow night (Friday), so I'll get to commute in and back, even toying with the idea of cycling the whole trip, i.e., the whole 18 miles each way. We'll see what the weather's to be like, but my route will be, on road down the valley, to Ynysarwed, then pick up the canal towpath, via the new aquaduct through Tonna, Neath, Giant's Grave, Briton Ferry, then follow the old A48 road to Port Talbot, thus avoiding the National route 4 cycleway, and all that broken glass, well fingers crossed.