Do Flat Tires Come in Threes?

2018-09-27 – My first flat tire came almost three weeks ago.

This was literally the first flat tire I ever had on a road bike I bought a year and a half ago—after logging more than 4,000 miles on the bike. I don’t get flats on my bike very often. The flat came near the end of a ride from one end of the lake front path to the other and back—a 45-mile planned ride. Near Navy Pier the trail uses sidewalks and a pedestrian forced me off the walk with a bang. The tire went flat almost immediately and, when my emergency CO2 cartridge didn’t work I called Kit to pick me up. A couple days later I fixed the tire and went for a 10-mile ride. No problem, but the next morning it was flat again.

Flat number two.

When you replace a bicycle inner tube, you are supposed to check the rim and the inside of the tire for glass or other sharp objects that might have caused the flat so they don’t give you a second flat. I did that. But when I got the second flat so soon, I figured that I missed something, so I took it to the bike story. They replaced the inner tube and did the required check, finding nothings. They speculated that my replacement inner tube might have had a defect.

This fix seemed to last.

I was concerned because the following Sunday was the North Shore Century. It was the first time I would attempt 100 miles in a day. I had been preparing all summer. I didn’t want a flat tire to ruin all that. I went for several rides that week on the fixed tire and everything seemed fine, as before.

Except when I tried to top off the pressure right before the big ride. Something seemed amiss. But I did manage to get both tires to the required pressure and I rode the 100 miles without problem. And I rode more than 100 miles in the week following. Then, the morning after a 35-mile ride to the Botanic Gardens . . .

The third flat.

I never had this before. In 60 years of riding, I could probably count my number of bicycle flats on one hand—until this triad of flats. So I took the bike back to the bike shop. They still couldn’t find the exact cause, but saw that the rubber strip separating the inner tube from the rim had worn thin in places, so they replaced that. That was Monday. So far the fix has held for 50 miles. The tire is still hard and in a few minutes I’m going out to do another 20.

The week after the North Shore Century, I hit my 2018 goal of 2,500 miles for the year, but it’s still early. I’m now hoping to reach 3,000 miles, weather permitting. And assuming that I can keep air in my tires. I’m hoping that the third fix was the charm.

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