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Bicycles

Punctures in the wet

7th June 2018

Anna van der Breggen

Anna van der Breggen, by youkeys, Licence CC BY 2.0

I set out for a long ride on Sunday, after overnight rain. The roads were wet in places, with sand and stones washed onto the tarmac. Some puddles were unavoidable because they stretched from one verge to the other.

The first soft, sinking feeling came only 6 miles in. I hoped that I was mistaken - perhaps there was just something in the surface of the lane that mimicked the ride of a low-pressure tyre? But no, it was a puncture. At least it's the front, I thought.

I opened my saddle bag, and was surprised to find I had no spare inner tube there. I always have one. Well, obviously not. Anyway, wheel off, tyre off, inner tube out, puncture located. I found the offending object - a sharp bit of stone or glass lodged in the tyre - and removed it. I patched the tube (Park Tools patch), put it back, and pumped the tyre up with my surprisingly good Topeak Pocket Rocket pump. I used to have a shocking mini-pump that essentially didn't work (disclaimer: it might have been me using it wrong), but this one is great.

I set off again, but now with doubts about the wisdom of riding a long way from home. The potholed road by the river Ure between Wath and West Tanfield seemed a bit 'sus'. I stopped at West Tanfield to commune with donkeys, and when I was about to pedal off, I noticed that the back tyre was soft.

Donkeys at West Tanfield

Donkeys at West Tanfield

I got my hands good and dirty this time, and did a bad job into the bargain, resulting in a stop 5 minutes later to peel off the first patch, and apply another.

The roads began to dry, and for the rest of the ride, I was the un-deflated champion of the country lanes of North Yorkshire.

This got me thinking about why punctures are more likely in wet conditions. I'm not a pioneer in the field - it's a subject that is covered on the web - so here is a little summary.

Punctures in the wet: why are they more common?

British Cycling says, 'It is no coincidence that punctures are more common in wet weather. More grit and debris is washed onto the roads, and the water acts as a lubricant for objects penetrating your tyres.' The wisdom of the bike radar forum is that debris sticks to a wet tyre, and is therefore more likely to work its way through.

Punctures in the wet: how can you prevent them?

It's recommended to drop your tyre pressure by 5-15 psi in the wet, for better grip. British Cycling suggest that should help avoid punctures from sharp flints. Don't drop too low, though, as you'll run more risk of a pinch flat or a thorn puncture.

Other than tyre pressure, puncture prevention is down to equipment.

You can buy tyres that have a layer of Kevlar in the rubber, which helps stop sharp objects penetrating the tyre. You can also buy tyre liners, which go between tyre and inner tube, to provide puncture resistance.

There are 'self-healing' inner tubes, which have slime inside: if you get a puncture, some slime comes out of the hole and solidifies, instantly sealing the hole. They are heavier than normal inner tubes, and in the comments to a road.cc review, some users complain that the valves get clogged up with slime, and when the tube punctures, the gunge goes everywhere. On the other hand, KiwiMike from north Hampshire, where there are lots of thorns and flint shards, said that his cycling club is making them compulsory for 100 mile + runs.

Froome Salbutamol case

25th May 2018

Chris Froome

Chris Froome, by denismenchov08, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

There's been an awful lot of comment on Chris Froome's Salbutamol case, almost certainly too much. Cycling journalists ask hard questions of Froome, but give the UCI a free ride about the leak of the confidential process. For below the line commenters, everything is evidence of cheating - good and bad performances alike.

Read about the Froome Salbutamol case.

Zandvoort bike lane Donkeys, West TanfieldBike lane at fork in road, Zandvoort

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