I managed to get 8 1/2 miles on The Mule with no problems. As I was accelerating through a suburban intersection I heard a clang sound on the ground. I thought that my pump had fallen off my bike for some reason so I pulled over and checked. The pump was still on my frame. I started down a long hill when my back tire started feeling squishy. I pulled over again knowing full well that I now had my second flat in two months.
I had gone over a year without a flat so I suppose I was over due for this, my second flat in two months. It took me over 15 minutes to find the source of the flat. I found a tear in the tire’s casing that was so smooth I didn’t feel it or see it when I searched. I only found it after I found the hole in the tube and matched the tube to the tire. I couldn’t find any debris in the tire at all. I must have hit a sharp piece of metal that did it’s thing and left the scene of the crime.
I covered the hole on the inside of the tire with a $1 bill and put a new tube in. As I started back up I could feel a lump in the rear wheel with each revolution. I stopped and took the wheel off to make sure the tire was properly seated under the rim of the wheel.
Back on the road I decided that rather than ride my planned 40 miles, I would head back home. I took the long way making sure to check to see how far gas prices had fallen in the last 24 hours. To my surprise the same gas station was now charging 38 cents more, $2.15. Stranger still, the gas station next store was charging $1.99.
I rode to Mount Vernon, still deserted, of course, then back toward home taking several loops around neighborhood streets to pad my mileage.
After 25 miles I called it quits. I then changed the rear tire again, tossing out the damaged one and replacing it with an old one I had in my basement. As I was checking to make sure the tire was properly seated I spotted a fracture in the rim of the wheel. No bueno. This sort of thing is a ticking time bomb that can destroy a ride and leave you stranded.
Off I went to Conte’s Bike Shop in Old Town Alexandria. As luck would have it they had a wheel that would fit my needs. (It was not a wheel they normally carry. They had it on hand because they goofed on a previous order.)
I was pretty wary about going to the shop but they were all business as far as hygiene was concerned. No one stood close to me, except for the handing over of the wheels. The mechanic wore surgical gloves and used a Clorox wipe on the credit card scanner. Then he let me select a couple of wipes for my use.
As I left I checked out the people sitting outside a restaurant celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Nobody seemed like they were having much fun. Customers were in groups of two or three and separated by a few feet from other groups. Lethal viruses are a buzzkill, dude.
So tomorrow I will remount the tire and fiddle with the rear brakes to make sure everything works properly. Tonight I am going to order some new tires. These last ones were a rip off. They only lasted about 6,000 miles.