Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Old bikes - same old punctures!...

If spring is about looking forward and autumn about dying back, summer is surely about the present moment - a long, hot now that marks the sultry climax to the year - roughly bookended by haymaking and harvest, it is a time of fruition and plenty, of promises fulfilled. Spring's generative riotousness slows and ceases and a stillness settles over the land.

Summer seemed to arrived here - in all its warmth and glory - and the opportunity to dress up in retro clothing and ride the classic bikes is something to savour. So it was that Gary, Phil and I met up for a morning 'test'. Phil was riding his fully restored BSA Tour of Britain machine, resplendent in a colour coordinated woollen jersey parading the BSA logo and completing the 'look' with a pair of hand-made leather shoes. I opted for the Bianchi today - giving a chance to don my recent eBay purchases; retro styled Bianchi jersey and shorts - with matching socks and cap! On the way to meet up I stopped roadside to adjust the Garmin on my handlebars (absolutely not a period feature!) - two riders whizzed past as I stood there - I heard one say: "Bloody hell, have we gone back in time?"

We met at the usual cycling rendezvous and quickly set off for Market Bosworth. The sunshine was strong and bright, a slight tailwind helping us along as we reached 23mph. These bikes move fast - I can't really notice any difference compared to my carbon bike - until the road rises - uphill they're harder, but only because the gearing is much higher with a 53 chainring and the largest rear cog only 22. No matter - we managed to climb the hill to the town centre without any heart attacks.

At the cafe
We decided a coffee stop would be appropriate - opting to sit on the bench outside and enjoy the sunshine. There was quite an interest in the bikes, a couple of cyclists leaving the cafe stopped to examine, then a couple (not cycling) came over for a chat, he said he rode a Boardman hybrid, but remembered fondly his old Raleigh with Campagnolo gears. Then a man from the house adjacent to the cafe came out - he was interested in the old bikes, he had an old racer originally made in Leicester - he went to fetch it - it was probably built late 1970s or early 80s, he was interested in getting it restored - we chatted for a while and he gave us his email to pass on to Mike at Vintage Cycle Sports.

`You fix the puncture, I'll pretend to be an aeroplane'

We left for the return journey and split up at Congerstone with me taking the high road to home. At the top of the hill - Pffffshhhhh - puncture! The perennial problem with tyres and, consequentially, punctures on these old machines is two fold - 1) They are fitted with tubular tyres - no inner-tubes, so roadside repair means removing the old tyre and replacing with a new one - which has to be glued onto the steel wheel rim. 2) The tyres don't have the same level of anti-puncture protection afforded by modern clincher tyres - in other words they are more susceptible to punctures!

The immediate problem for me was that I'd forgotten to bring a spare tyre (aargh) - thankfully I wasn't far from home and I managed to slowly ride there on the flat tyre.

I've now ordered a couple of spare tyres and have just completed a repair of the punctured one - a lengthy process involving pealing off the cloth tape glued (welded?) to the underside of the tyre, undoing the stitched tyre casing to reveal the tube, repairing the tube with a patch, re-stitching the casing and supergluing the cloth tape back on - took me over an hour! - hopefully should be okay though?

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