Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bike Tires and Me

Greetings Readers

Bike Tires

I have acknowledged this topic occasionally in my past posts. All of my biking tires principally are Michelin ProRace tires. Customarily the Blue or Red Color. However, on my current day-to-day bike I usually put other brand name bike tires on since this is the one bike, Tracey, that will get the most mileage put on.

Wait a minute… I had to verify what type of tires that I have on my everyday bike. The bike tires are the color gray to match this remarkable bike scheme. Hutchinson – Fusion Comp. It has GMP. Grip Maximized Performance – New rubber mixture reinforced with silica that features a pronounced granular-textured surface for the ultimate ingrip. Yes readers, that’s what is says on the packaging.

Note: I keep all my bike tire packaging so I know what types of tires I purchased for my everyday bike. I want to make sure when I get another new set of tires I can recollect what brand I like and what brand I should steer clear of for whatever reason.

In my view - the category of the bike tire matters so much to me. And a very close second is the color. Yeah yeah yeah, I know that sounds ludicrous, but I want color (and sometimes logos) on my bike tires. Either to parallel my bike color or to totally offset the color arrangement of the bike. The only time that I have a pure black tire is when the tire is brand new and that is what is included on the bike on the day of purchase. After that pure black tire is threaded out I only purchase bike tires with color.

I like to have “grip”(traction) on my bike tires. When I lean into a turn I want to lean and not worry about “going horizontal” and kiss the Earth.

I also like to purchase the more expensive brand of tire. It does not matter that the bike tire is on sale; I would still look at the retail price and hopefully say to myself that is an expensive tire, which I am getting at a bargain price.

In general, an expensive tire is the superior choice. Believe me on this. Many years ago I bought the 8.00 tire. It was the worst tire I ever put on my bike. I got no mileage out of the tire and literally wore that tire down.

When I put on a brand new set of bike tires, yes I usually buy two bike tires, I am so happy. Matter of fact I do not want to take the bike out and get those bike tires dirty.

Now, here’s a secret that I will now divulge. This is how pathetic I am. I have the Orange Goo that is available at all automotive stores that is used for grease, oil, and whatever grime gets on your hands and arms regarding vehicles. First, I wipe the tires down with a semi wet paper towel. Then, I grab another paper towel and put some Orange Goo on the paper towel and proceed to wipe my tire down starting with the sides of the tire. I thoroughly wipe until I feel I am done. I then get another semi wet paper towel. (Readers, I know that a rag would work probably better [and save paper towel consumption], but once I get into my ritual, or a ritual, I do not modify any of my rituals)

The feeling I get I cannot even relate to you readers, but my eyes light up and I think I do smile when I see the bright color (usually the blue or red) of the bike tire. Seeing no dirt on the bike tire is priceless. I get a fourth semi wet paper towel and wipe once more. I want no dirt on my bike tire and I want that bike tire to look new!

But, my cleanliness does not stop there. While I have the bike tires off the bike I wipe down both set of brakes. There is that black residue from the brakes, which I just hate, but I want my bike tires to stay clean for as long possible and that means cleaning the brakes.

When I finally get everything wiped down. Oh yes, I did not mention that when I clean my bike tires I end up wiping the whole fucking bike down. And I do not mean that in a bad way. It always fucking happens! I wipe the forks, the frame, the posts, etc. I take a toothpick and wrap a piece of paper towel around the toothpick and wipe the…. Oops – I am digressing from the topic at hand. I will cover this subject in a future blog. I am laughing at myself on this because I sure could get going on this topic.

After the bike tires appear “brand new” here is where I get myself worked up. I have to inspect each bike tire. I just loathe this part. I hate finding “the tears” in my tires, especially when I know that I bought the bike tire a week ago. The $ 40.00 to $ 50.00 dollar per bike tire I bought and I see a “tear” just pisses me off and I start to wonder where and how that “tear” occurred.

Now, let's jump ahead in time, for this particular set of tires 1,290.17 miles later. The bike tires are looking pretty battered, but what’s worst the bike tire is literally unraveling. That is what is pictured on my blog post for today. Of course, in my opinion, the bike tires are still usable and rideable (not sure that is a word).

I know what you are thinking – This guy is crazy. Or perhaps thinking – Why doesn’t he buy a new bike tire?

Why don’t I buy a new bike tire. Hmmm. I have many reasons and this list is in no particular order.

1. I am a cheap skate.
2. I want my money’s worth out of the tire.
3. I can “repair” the bike tire.
4. Fuck me – I got spend another $ 50.00 to $ 100.00 dollars.

If I paid $ 50.00 I want $ 50.00 worth. No, I do not know how to gauge $ 50.00 worth. Yet, I want to ride that bike tire until I can no longer safely ride on the bike tire.

Now I am laughing at myself. And how I judge “I can no longer ride on the tire” is when I start getting flats everyday. Or if the duct tape I put inside the bike tire starts getting too much and my bike goes “thump thump” every time the "ducted" part of the bike tire makes contact with the pavement. Not to mention that I can feel the “thump thump” either in my handlebars or my bike seat (depending if the front or rear wheel has the duct tape. I actually do not mind until the “thump thump” until it gets unbearable to ride with.

Oh yes – here’s the secret. As you can see from the picture the bike tire is starting to unravel, but I did my test once more this morning. I held up the bike tire to the Sunday morning light and I did not see any major rays of sunlight shining through the bike tire itself. The threads are still intact. Yet, I predict in about two weeks I think I am going to seeing the world through that portion of the bike tire. And here’s the secret to get some more miles out of the bike tire. You need some scissors, duct tape, an empty Coca-Cola can carton (a 12 or 24 pack will suffice) and your past experience in grade school while doing art.

Here’s how I “repair” a bike tire - Cut out a rectangle piece of carton – depending on the size of the hole that you are trying to repair. If you mess up just cut another one out. Once that is done place the piece of carton inside the bike tire. After you place the piece inside in the bike tire grab the roll of duct tape. I usually cut a piece of duct tape that is bigger than the piece of carton I just cut out. Place the duct tape over the piece of carton you placed inside the bike tire. Then, I usually cut a couple more strips of duct tape (does not matter what size since I am placing all other pieces of duct tape over the initial duct tape) What I am trying to do is add some thickness where “I am seeing the world through the tire” since the road is going to grind/wear away at the carton and duct tape through riding.

And that’s my secret on fixing a worn out bike tire that you want to get more mileage out of. Remember readers and riders - Even though you may be “seeing the world through the tire” the bike tire is also unraveling on the sides of the tire where the threads are no longer on the bike tire. Be careful! The integrity of the bike tire will soon be gone and then you will have a bike tire that is not a bike tire and perhaps you could damage your rim(s)

I realize I typed “I am a cheapskate”, but I am not sure if that is the right thing to say since I like quality and as I blog some time ago – I am a name brand wh-re” I just want to get my use out of the tire before investing in a new tire. I have money, but a friend say to me “You’re the type of person who takes account of every penny you spend.” And that is true. I don’t want to buy a new bike tire until I really have to

I just wish I could apply that philosophy to my bike buying. Fuck me.

Now, onto my adventures this morning with the Sunday ritual. I had to go to the grocery store this morning since I have no Coca-Cola in my humble abode. I knew that I had to get the 12 pack of Vanilla Coca-Cola, but I also knew that I was going to buy something else at the grocery store.

I looked in my wallet – a couple of Lincolns and a lot of Washingtons. Nope, I did not count the exact cash, but had a general sense I had enough for whatever I may purchase. I then grabbed $ 1.75 in quarters from my Coca-Cola coin bank. The Sunday paper cost $ 1.50, but I always carry an extra quarter just in case the paper machine fucks me out of a quarter.

Note: Readers, I got fucked out of a quarter a few times before and that meant I had to ride home and get another quarter. Now, that is why I carry an extra quarter – just in case. In the spring and summer – not a problem. In winter – well like this morning it was cold, cold. So cold that my fingers were cold, my eyes were watering from the cold and how fast I was riding down Arapahoe Road. That means it was cold outside.

I decided to go to the grocery store first then get the paper from the paper machine last. Inside the grocery store I decided I wanted chicken for dinner, then I decided I wanted to make salad, then I walked past the Potato Chips Aisle and stopped. I walked backwards and decided I wanted Lays Potato Chips. Thank goodness the chips were on sale. I finally completed my journey to the Soft Drinks Aisle.

I walked to the cashier - Kim. By the way readers, this particular Grocery store does not have any cashiers on duty until 8 AM on Sunday. And as you faithful readers know there is no way I am going to use the self-serve checkout. No fucking way!

The cashier starts weighing and scanning my groceries. I am watching the expenses go up on the check out screen. I am getting a bit worried - $ 12.00, then $ 15.00 and finally $ 18.00 and change. I say to the cashier – “Um, I might not have enough”. I open my wallet and pull out all the bills. I laid two Lincolns on the small place where you write out your check and then I started to count the Washingtons. There were seven Washingtons. “Oh here is my grocery store card perhaps that will help?” New total was $ 17.31 – Fuck me. I did not want to use my Sunday paper money. Fuck. I grabbed two of the Sunday morning quarters and that settled the expenses. I was left with $ 1.25 in quarters and .19 in change. Now, I have to ride home and grabbed a quarter and then ride back. Again, if it was not winter I would be okay riding home and back, but this morning was cold and I just did not want to ride back to where I was presently at.

I know that I could have put back some of the items in my grocery basket, but I wanted every item I chose this particular morning. There was no reasoning that was going on inside me. Nor did I think twice about putting any items back. I wanted my chicken thighs, mushrooms, green onions, radishes, carrot, cucumber, leaf lettuce ($ 1.99!), Vanilla Coca-Cola and Lays Potato chips.

Long story short as I was riding home from the grocery store I got a flat. After changing the flat I see the culprit was a thorn. Not sure how in the hell I got that on Arapahoe Road. From using my Sunday paper quarters, getting a flat, being very cold, I am still smiling. Why you wonder – well let me tell you.

An “old cashier” from another grocery store (just up the street from where we were) noticed me outside the grocery store I went to this morning. I heard “Hey, what are you doing at this store?!” I ignored this since I did not think this person was talking to me. I heard the sentence once more so I looked up from my bike bag and saw Dick. I said “Hi Dick, I have not seen you in a long, long time?”

Without boring you readers – we caught up since we last saw each other in less than two minutes. He retired back in June. And I am still riding every Sunday Morning - hell every day. Who knows if we will see each other again, but it was nice to see him again. We are not friends, but in a sense we are. He was the cashier I went to at the other grocery store when I had to. And Dick was one cashier who did not ask if I wanted stamps or ice. A plus in my book. End of that story.

If you readers have read this far then you may laugh like I did.

I returned home to get the quarter, a quarter, I needed and then headed to the paper machine I frequent. On instinct (since this was one paper machine that eats quarters, but you can retrieve the quarter(s) if you hit the side of the machine a bit hard) I put my left fore finger in the coin return slot and felt up the right side wall of the coin return slot. Fuck me. I smiled hugely and said out loud in a low voice – “Fuck me.” I could help laughing and shaking my head in my ever so "fuck me" manner. I did not have to ride 1.61 miles to go get a quarter. Again, it must of have been the cold morning. Or perhaps it was turning another year older. I can still laugh at myself while typing this post. If I was thinking - I should have went to the paper machine and checked the slot before even going home. Then, perhaps I would have never gotten the thorn in my tire. My life was altered by spending my reserve quarter and one of my Sunday quarters and that one quarter in coin return slot. A quarter altered my life today.

Until the next time

Daryl Charley
The Fallen Athlete

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