The flatting game

I love getting flats.  Especially punctures caused by incredibly small gremlins (or glass) that are invisible to the naked eye.  But I’ll start with a ride report.  What a gorgeous day to ride.

The Saturday morning ride headed out of New Haven with solid group of about 15, including some of New Haven’s finest riders.  We battled some mild traffic and ran a few stoplights (something I will never get used to doing, having learned to ride in the “wide-open” spaces of Norwich, VT, where coming upon a stoplight is exciting and novel enough to make one genuinely excited to obey it). We gradually dropped the hammer to the floor as we got clear of town.  Things got fun when local legend, Jacob Hacker, opened it up a little more and dropped the other local legend, Guido Wolloman.  It was humbling to watch two local titans of cycling culture-fight it out, like watching Yoda and that evil Darth Sith guy battle it out in Star Wars III (this is about as good as my pop-culture references get).

Part II of the ride consisted of meeting up with my CCNS — Charlescoaching.com– teammates who joined the lively tempo of the group ride, and then split off with me for more miles.  Ernie got in his aerobars, (of which I made much fun, until he caught me off guard and rode me right off his wheel!) and proceeded to pull Aidan and I along at 30mph until “Fancy Feast” (I don’t know why) was dropped.  Then the first flat.  This one came on suddenly, and this early in the ride, the only course was, naturally, a new tube (although the reader may begin to guess what comes later).

After a nice, long, beautiful day with the teammies, I turned off to head back to New Haven, as they headed for Middletown (~1hr ride north of New Haven).

I'm not showing you my watts -- check out the bottom right corner, next to the dried-on suffering -- that's the temperature.

Then it started again.  Many of you will know what I’m talking about.  It goes like this:  First you think, “Wow, I remember this road was rougher — it feels so smooth today.”  Then comes the moto-like handling — the bars turn in more by themselves through a gentle turn.  Subtle, but a sure sign.  For those who are a little thicker, the confirmation (or first sign!) may be the rim hitting the pavement, or the sagging out of the saddle.  But I’m only forty minutes (…or so) from home!  Thus begins the Flatting Game.

I actually do get pleasure out of seeing how far I can make it before I actually break down and change a tube.  In this case, we had a high-stakes round of the Flatting Game, since all I had left was a patch kit.  What a treat.  After a few minutes, I felt something else — the rear rim bottomed out on bump.  Ah, a rare pleasure indeed!  A round of the Super-Double High Stakes Flatting Game!  (And also a surprise round of the IT-Band game, which is even less interesting, and WAY less fun).

Today, sadly, the flats didn’t have much fight.  In past Flatting Games, I’ve resorted to advanced strategies like stopping and pumping furiously with my little frame pump, and then riding for twenty minutes, and then stopping again.  This strategy is particularly useful for another variation of the Flatting Game (that was invented in Vermont, I think) called Extreme Flatting.  This is a life-or-death version of the game, and can only be played in conditions with Jens Factor 5 or greater (http://cyclocosm.com/2010/01/calculate-your-jens-factor/).

Some of you understand already, but I’ll elucidate.  If your hands are numb, you can’t change a flat.  Cold hands are numb.  If you can’t change a flat, you can’t ride.  If you are wearing materials that were designed for winter in Italy (any fabric with ‘clima’, ‘roubaix’, ‘sheild’, or the like in the name doesn’t work in Vermont in winter, even if you’re wearing thirty of them at once — apparently you need things with ‘Car’ and ‘hartt’), you will freeze to death.  I’ve heard it’s a pleasant way to go, though, and I’ve come close enough myself (perhaps a story for another post) to agree that it probably is.

Another form of ‘advanced mischief’ (to quote a great teacher/friend) involves continuing to play by riding on completely flat tires (my super secret training method for muddy/snowy cross-handling skills).  But today it was far too easy.  A few light rim-strikes, some careful turning (and smooth, high-cadence spinning — remember, the IT-band game), and I was home with at least 15PSI in both tires.  Far too easy.  But a great day nonetheless.

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~ by awerbuch on February 22, 2010.

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