Screwed again

Neither sealant nor lip balm will keep you rolling after you collect one of these bad boys in your tire.

You know what doesn’t give a shit about whether you have sealant in your tubes?

A big-ass screw, that’s what.

I collected this sonofabitch in the rear tire this morning at the bottom of the Tramway descent, just after I’d crossed under Interstate 25 and hung a left on the Pan American Freeway near Balloon Fiesta Parkway.

I heard a short clatter, then a “tick … tick … tick” that told me I’d picked up a hitchhiker, and so I pulled over to have a look-see.

“Th’ fuck’s this, a thumbtack?” I muttered, and then gave it a tug.

Spooge! Fwissssssssh. Phhbbbllllllllffff.

Seriously, it was like one of those volcano projects from junior high. Or Bluto’s zit imitation in “Animal House.”

And of course, it had to be the rear tire, on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, so called for the Rohloff hub on (wait for it) the rear wheel.

What are the chances of picking up something like this in a bicycle tire? If you’re me, 100 percent.

Did I mention the Gates belt? Yeah, it has one of those, too.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had to deal with a flat of any kind on this bike, which is a testament to its Geax AKA 29 x 2.0 tires. But this fucking screw might’ve given even Superman a hitch in his gitalong if he ever happened to be afoot in Albuquerque.

As I was, on a scorching Sunday morning, hoofing it along the shoulder of the Pan American, looking for a shady spot and trying to remember how to remove and replace the rear wheel on a Rohloff/Gates-equipped bike, a chore I last performed in a workstand at Chez Dog in Bibleburg back in … 2012?

Lucky me, I found a bus bench with a sun shade at Balloon Fiesta Parkway. And then I set about rooting through the ol’ mental hard drive.

Lessee here: Shift into 14th gear. Break out a nickel to loosen the thumbscrew holding the cable box to the hub. Remove the cable box. Open the quick-release lever. Remove the wheel. Bingo.

The bus bench had a convenient trash can that made an excellent workstand to hold the bike while I swapped tubes (just affix rear dropouts to rim of can).

Reinstalling the wheel proved a tad more challenging. Unlike a chain, a Gates belt isn’t a greasy mess. But it kept wanting to hop off the crank or the sprocket as I tried to mate hub with dropouts and brake rotor with calipers. Lacking a hammer, I was compelled to employ patience, which is always in short supply among the Irish.

After a few tries, the belt surrendered, I closed the QR, snapped the cable box back into place, screwed it down finger-tight in case I lost my nickel at the casino on the way back, and hey presto! I had all 14 gears and a slightly soft rear tire (about 30 psi, as it turned out, despite my best efforts with my thousand-year-old Blackburn minipump). That was enough to get home.

And a good thing, too, ’cause I only had the one spare tube. One more flat and it was the patch kit for Your Humble Narrator.

Now how’s that work again? Lessee here. …


22 Responses to “Screwed again”

  1. Libby Says:

    You saved the day! Good on ya! We have the very hot and very humid weather that is plaguing much of the US. Usually, it’s just hot and very humid. What are you doing for grub – crockpot chile? Mostly cold items? Maybe it isn’t an issue.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      “Good training,” as they say, Libby. At least I could work on my bike in the shade. It’s been stupid hot and dry here, with at least one temperature record tied (100 degrees on Friday).

      The other day I made a batch o’ gazpacho, which was perfect; that, and some cheese, fruit, salad, and sardines, took us through the worst of it and spared us having to crank up the range and/or oven.

      What are you doing to minimize kitchen time?

      • Libby Says:

        Yes, I use sardines and canned tuna year round for quick protein but especially in the summer. Also, sometimes I assemble something that requires the oven. I do it later in the evening when I don’t have to be in the kitchen when the oven is on! I also make use of the oven for a non-standard cooking method instead of the stove top. Anything to stay away from the heat. For example, instead of boiling water to pour over couscous I put cold water over the couscous in a Pyrex pie plate add frozen peas, raw cashews (they soften up), cover and put in oven alongside whatever else I’m baking/roasting , for ex. vegetables. But, I don’t roast at 400 degrees, either, because of the Pyrex and limiting heating up the house. Not a perfect preparation of roasted vegetables but it’s ok and still tastes great! Add greens, protein, roasted vegetables, canned chickpeas, canned artichokes. Makes plenty for meals.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Good thinking there. Tonight I made an arugula pesto over spaghetti and Herself did a green salad. One pot of boiling water is about as much heat as I require in late July. And it adds a soupçon of moisture to the air. Bonus!

        • crankyoldguyonabike Says:

          I have made several batches of ceviche recently. Doesn’t require the stove, oven or crockpot and keeps the dungalow a bit cooler as the tempers fray in the heat

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          That sounds good too. I haven’t made ceviche in forever.

          Last night we had the last of the gazpacho, a green salad and vegetarian quesadillas, which only demanded nine minutes in the oven at 350. That was bearable.

          Today I might experiment with a slow-cooker taco recipe I found over at the NYT.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Got home from chores yesterday and decided to clean and lube the chain on the CAAD-5. I figured since it was clean, I would put the chain checker on it. Sure enough, it dropped right through indicating significant wear. Oopsie. time to change chains. Since I was in that deep, I also decided to change out the frayed rear derailleur cable too. The chain meant putting on the wheel with the biggest set of cogs to ensure I didn’t trim off too many links, so I did that. Then a new shift cable and adjusted that.

    When all was said and done, The Boss was making pizza dough so it was time to wash all the gook off the hands and go in to do kitchen stuff. But the bike worked fine this morning. That Rohloff and Gates stuff is wonderful, but there is something nice about bike bits one can work on in one’s dotage without that awful feeling of “oh, shit, how did I do this last time?”.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, I can’t say I relish staring at a component with my mouth hanging open and a big cartoon “Duh” balloon floating over my head.

      I’ve been changing out some bits on the Voodoo Nakisi, and man, I gotta tell ya, cassette lockrings, bar-end shifter cables, and Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis … they’re pretty self-explanatory.


      • khal spencer Says:

        A few years back when I bought the LaCruz, it had a fancy bottom bracket on it. I managed to strip a retaining bolt inside the GRZQ-WOMBAT5-PRESSFITABRACADABRA state of the art bottom bracket. Ended up with the bike at the LBS where they ended up having to drill out the mother and toss it in the can. That was an expensive mistake.

  3. Mitchell Smoller Says:

    Great work, under duress!

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Pesto saves the day again. A sauté pan and pasta pot is all it take to get to heaven in 20 minutes without heating up the place too much. A chef’s salad with triscuits and hummus on the side works well when the mercury tops the century mark.

    That mini Topeak morph pump hanging on the top tube of the Double Cross is history. I picked up a roofing nail in the rear tire a few weeks ago, It took about 200 pump strokes to get a 700×35 to 50 PSI. I assume you ran into the same issue. There is a full size Topeak Road Morph, with gauge, hanging in the bracket now.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yep. At least 200 strokes on the pump to get to 30 psi. It won’t do. I need one of the big boys. You can also beat on things with one of those, in case you left the hammer at home.

      And hummus! Thanks for the reminder, Paddy me boyo. I’ve been thinking about hummus, but haven’t quite gotten there yet. I’m getting there tomorrow.

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Last flat I had could have been very, very bad. My spare tube came outta the bag and the valve stem promptly fell off into the road! Luckily I was with some friends and clients and could take back the tube I’d given our friend Favaloro to replace one he’d loaned out the other day. Dunno what caused the flat, but I put a new tube and fresh patch kit in the ol’ Scicon saddebag ASAP! And of course, no issues since then. Oh, and Michele got a new tube as well.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve had two aw-shit flats. The first was a rare simultaneous double-flat involving the road bike and a huge patch of broken glass just outside Española in the late Eighties.

      Naturally I had only the one spare tube, and thus I enjoyed a longish walk home through Three-Legged Pit Bull Country to my place in La Puebla, in road shoes with Look cleats.

      The second was the traditional single flat, on the mountain bike, on a Bear Basin Ranch trail east of Weirdcliffe. That time I had two spare tubes. Unfortunately, both had been punctured previously and I had forgotten to replace them with the sort that actually holds air.

      Happily, by that time I was a veteran cyclocrosser. I stashed the bike in some brush and jogged home in my Sidi Dominators, which somehow felt more like Dumbinators.

      Now I almost always carry two spare tubes and a patch kit. But those 29er tubes are bulky and I only had the one yesterday. Lucky for me it held air long enough to get home, too. It either was a bum tube or I missed some other sharp object when I was inspecting the tire at the bus bench. Sumbitch was flatter than Mick Mulvaney’s head this morning.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Rim strip damaged by the big ass screw perhaps?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Haven’t checked yet, but the broken bottles have been at roadside in abundance lately, so I suspect a rogue glass fragment, or perhaps the usual goat head.

        The Voodoo Nakisi is in the stand at the moment, awaiting brakes and tires. The Co-Motion is next in line.

        I should have plenty of time to work on bikes today, as the wind is blowing a Brazilian miles an hour (say, how many is a Brazilian, anyway?) and a heavy rain is in the forecast.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        A time or two I’ve ridden the thing home on a flat, no walking for me! Amazingly, never ruined a tire or rim though I don’t recommend the practice.
        One would think after all these years I’d check the saddlebag contents once each season but it never seems to happen – until it’s too late…then I check ’em ALL!

      • khal spencer Says:

        I’ve run 700 by 20-28 tubes in big 29er tires in a pinch. They are undoubtedly not meant to be used that way, but its worked.

  6. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Ooh the dreaded internal gear, rear wheel flat! I suffered greatly attempting one on a Shimano 8 speed. Botched it I did and the gears would not align so off to the trusted bike shop. But you pulled through ok laddie? I’m intrigued by the mighty Rohloff 14.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The Co-Motion’s Rohloff setup is pretty much dummy-free, Herb. Even I, the worst mechanic in the Western Hemisphere, was able to negotiate its mysteries. And twice, too, since when I got it home I decided to swap out the worn Geax AKA 29 x 2.0 tires for some new Donnelly X’Plor MSO 700 x 50’s.

      I will say that a rear-wheel project goes a lot smoother in the stand than at the bus bench. It’s easier to keep the Gates belt under control.

      The first time I did the remove-and-replace, for that Adventure Cyclist review I wrote back in 2012, I found myself with only a few of the hub’s 14 gears for some unknown reason. Removing the cable box, shifting into first gear, and then replacing the box, did the trick.

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