Done with Pro4 Service Course tires; Good Samaritan helps me get home.
Back in February I’d put more than 5,000 100% trouble-free kilometers (3,124 miles) on my Continental Grand Prix 4000S tires, and it was time to replace them. I was extremely pleased with the GP 4000S tires, but wanted to give the Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires a shake, as I’d heard very good things about them.
Life with the Pro4 tires started out very well: I loved the ride quality, the low rolling resistance, the way they handled/cornered and their simple, understated look.
Just before the Pro4s reached the 1,400 kilometer (864 mile) mark, a large shard of glass cut the front tire open. Believe it or not I didn’t flat while I was riding, but the tube blew shortly after during a standard pre-ride bike inspection. When I saw the size of the cut, I was impressed that I didn’t instantly flat while on the road. Unfortunately the cut was so large that the tire required replacement. I didn’t want to blame the tire, as I suspect the piece of glass I hit would have flatted just about any bike tire. Still, a flat is a flat. Strike 1.
A few weeks ago after a 162 kilometer/100-mile ride, I woke up the following morning to a flat rear tire. I didn’t mention this event in my blog (I meant to, but it slipped my mind), but I certainly made a mental note. Strike 2.
Yesterday I was less than 8 miles into my ride, and the rear tire went flat. I pulled off the road into a nice shaded area, yanked the tube and carefully ran my fingers all along the inside of the tire. I could feel nothing out of the ordinary, and a visual inspection also turned up nothing. I reasoned that something sharp had punched through, but not actually lodged in the tire.
So I replaced the tube, aired it up with one of my CO2 cartridges and was quickly back on the road.
Everything seemed fine at first, but a little over 3 miles down the road the rear tire flatted again. I figured that whatever caused the first flat was the culprit, and that I’d simply missed it during my inspection.
I didn’t have another tube with me, but I had one more CO2 cartridge and a Park self-adhesive patch kit. I wasn’t too far from home–around 6 or 7 miles–and since it seemed like a slow leak, I made the really dumb decision to use my last CO2 cart (I did not have an emergency pump with me) to air the tire up and attempt to make it home…
Yeah, I didn’t even get a half-mile down the road before I was flat again. I cursed myself for not taking the few extra minutes to locate the leak and patch the tube. Oh well, walking six or seven miles isn’t the end of the world. Actually, walking any distance in cycling shoes pretty much sucks, but I made my bed…
About a mile into my unscheduled walk, a woman in an SUV pulled up alongside me and said, “Hi, are you okay? Can I help?” Not wanting to break my streak of dumbass decisions, I inexplicably replied, “I’m good–thank you!” Wishing I could kick myself in the ass, I watched my ride home disappear over the crest of the hill I was in the midst of trudging.
About a half-mile later, another SUV pulled alongside of me. A pleasant-faced man rolled down the window and said with a thick accent, “Hello my friend, is there anything I can do to help?”
Fully realizing that I was, perhaps, about to make the dumbest choice in a string of dumb choices, I performed a quick “…is this guy going to try to kill me?” assessment. Nothing set off my Spidey senses, and so I told him I sure could use a lift. The gentleman got out of his car, and I instinctively checked for printing (“printing” is when the outline or bulge of a concealed weapon is visible under clothing). He appeared to be unarmed, and so I put my bike in the back of his vehicle and accepted the ride.
As we rode along, I learned that my rescuer hails from Greece, and now owns a local painting company. After telling me what he did for a living, my new friend handed me his business card; this relaxed me a bit, as I’ve never been murdered by someone who first gave me his business card. I glanced down, and noticed “Galatians 6:9” was in small print at the very bottom of the card.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
I have never discussed religion or politics on JSF–and I certainly won’t start now–but I will say that I internalized a smile knowing that his piety was genuine, and not merely idle words printed on a bit of colorful, stiff paper.
We drove and chatted. The miles ticked by, and I was immensely thankful to not be walking those miles in my stiff and uncomfortable cycling shoes. When we arrived at my home, I invited the guy to stop by anytime for a coffee, and promised to give him a ring when my house needed painting.
So, despite the less than ideal circumstances of my morning ride, that encounter put me in a pretty good mood!
Yesterday evening after work I went out to my bike shop and discovered two separate punctures in the tire–both of which had penetrated the tire casing:
I inspected the tubes, and based on the position of the punctures in relation to the valve stems, it is clear that a flat occurred at both spots. I only found glass in one of the holes, and even in my shop I could barely see or feel it until I manually worked it out of its hole. Strike 3, and strike 4.
I’m done with the Pro4 Service Course tires. That’s four punctures on two tires (one of which had to be replaced) over just 3,405 kilometers (2,116 miles) of riding. That’s not a very good performance record when compared to ZERO punctures after more than 5,000 kilometers on the Continental Grand Prix 4000S tires. Again, I really liked the GP 4000S tires in every respect, so going back to them is an easy choice.
Finally, while I was walking along the road yesterday with plenty of tube patches in my jersey but no means of actually airing up a patched tube, I decided that I need to start carrying a small emergency pump with me. I have a frame-mounted pump on my MTB, but I don’t want to frame-mount a pump on my road bike. After some research, I decided to buy the very small and well-reviewed Lezyne Pressure Drive Hand Pump, which is just 170mm in length (less than 7 inches). That little pump will fit nicely in my jersey pocket, and be a welcome safety net if I ever find myself in another situation like yesterday.