Friday, July 27, 2007

Hard Ride Three - The Puncture


This hard ride starts off on the 2005 Rusty Nuts Southern Cross. After having a great trip around the South Island and completing the first two checkpoints (Bluff and Cape Reinga) there were only two to go before heading home.

Check point three was at East Cape and this involved riding from Te Araroa to the Cape and back on a mostly gravel road. This was a bit of blast but once back on the tar and heading over the hill to Hicks Bay the bike started misbehaving in the corners - it was sliding all over the road.

I quickly realised that the rear tyre was going down and turned off into Hicks Bay and parked up at the store. Here we confirmed the diagnosis and pulled a small piece of wire out of the tyre. Now what?

In the bottom of my pack I had an old tyre pando that I'd had for at least 15 years and never used. We whacked this in and were loaned a foot pump (brand new, off the shelf) by the good folk at the shop which we used to put plenty of pressure in the tyre.

Things looked pretty good - no goop or air leaking out the hole but I was looking at a 200km ride back to Whakatane to get the tyre repaired - would it hold the whole way? What if it didn't - would I get to that last checkpoint at Cape Egmont by 12pm the next day? Was I doomed to bomb out on my first Southern Cross?

I started off taking things really easy - especially in the corners - expecting the repair to let go at any stage. After about the first 20km or so everything was still all good so I upped the pace a bit. After all it was either going to let go all at once or go down slowly - may as well get as close to civilisation as possible.

Miraculously I made it into Opotoki where I went into the first garage I saw to check the tyre pressure. The repair was holding up awesomely well - I didn't even put any more air in it! Now to get to Whakatane and get the tyre fixed properly.

We got into Whakatane at around 2pm and found the local Suzuki shop (Underwood & Wilkins) and they set to work on the puncture. By the time Mark & I had a late lunch they were finished and we were ready to hit the road again - but not before visiting Repco for another tyre pando, after all that first one had proved to be a good investment.

We made it into Te Kuiti by about 7pm and knew that we had the ride beat. Sure enough, no more dramas - just a quiet ride down to Cape Egmont, pick up the badge and off home. Mission accomplished but not without a little drama!

Part Two

This damn tyre is cursed!

I can't remember exactly where we'd been but we were coming back from Wanganui and we'd taken some of the back roads out behind Marton and ended up on the gravel. We'd just got back onto the tar again and the rear end got that wayward feeling - oh no, not again.

I limped it into Marton and pulled into a garage. Whipped out the month or two old tyre pando and stuck it in. I then pumped the tyre up pretty hard and we hit the road home.

This time I'd either done something wrong or the hole was just to big for the pando to seal (or maybe the pando was just too damn new). Every now and again Mark could see a squirt of sticky goo shoot out of the tyre and he was wondering if we were going to make it home. I was pretty oblivious to this and kept on going.

I must have really pumped that tyre up 'cause it made it home and I never had a problem with it. I did have a problem cleaning the goo off the swingarm and muffler though and the inside of the mudguard had a nice stripe on it for the rest of it's days...

Never the less I wasn't going to trust that tyre again and it was off to the bike shop for a new one first thing Monday morning. Oh and a tubeless tyre puncture repair kit which lives permanently under my seat - I hope I never have to use it!

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