Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Expect the Unexpected: What Really Happened During the 128km Night Ride

Last Saturday night was my first tire puncture while out riding on the road, in about 4 years of cycling. In these 4 years, I have been really lucky, having never suffered a puncture while out riding.

During the 128km night ride, while riding into Punggol from Punggol Timor Island, we were going along the road where there are many stones and rocks on the road. We had almost cleared the area when I heard a loud *psshhttt*, and I immediately knew that my tire had gone flat. I stopped by the road side and found that my rear tire was flat. No worries, I thought. I am well equipped to replace the tube and keep going.

To my dismay, I found that the Kojak tire had a cut sidewall. Must have been caused by the tire riding through the stone minefield. Here is how it looks:

Looks like a small cut?

Actually it is quite a serious cut, I can see my fingernails through the hole.

For this kind of punctures, the first thing to do is to somehow patch up the hole on the tire. The only thing that was available was a dollar note, which is strong enough to cover the cut and prevent the tube from protruding through the hole. Many thanks to Boo for the $2 note!

With the note inserted between the new tube and the tire, and covering the cut, the makeshift patch seems to be working fine. Although the tube can be seen to be protruding slightly, it looked like the $2 note is strong enough not to tear.

And so we rode from Punggol, all the way to Changi Village and then along Changi Coastal Road. Just as we entered ECP from NSRCC, I suddenly had a funny feeling on the bike. I was pedaling normally, and holding the handlebar steady, but I just could not keep the bike going straight. It seemed to be wobbling around, with the steering feeling sluggish.

I stopped and took a look at the rear tire. Alamak, it was going flat again. The tire was not totally flat yet, but it was losing air. I tried pumping it up with the hand pump, but heard the dreaded hissing sound, coming from the same spot where the tire was cut previously. At that point I knew that my ride was over. I then told Boon Chun, who was with me as the group's sweeper, that I would not be able to go on. He then went on to chase down the rest of the group to relay the news to them.

Luckily, I was already near the ECP service road, and I pushed my bike to the service road. I was glad that I had George Kee's number, and I called him for help to pick me up. He was doing a great job covering our night ride as the support vehicle. Many thanks to George for the support!

And that was how I magically appeared at Big Splash, and then at West Coast Mac. Because of this incident, I only completed 80+km, 30km short of the complete route.

When I went to MyBikeShop yesterday, they had run out of the standard 20" Kojak tires. There were also no other 20" tires available except the Duranos. However, they did have the last pair of Limited Edition white wall Kojak tires. I guess those tires will have to do for now, else I would not even be able to ride the bike.

Limited Edition White Kojak Tires

A close up look at the white line running along the tire

While changing out the damaged Kojak tire and tube, I also analyzed what went wrong the second time it punctured. I found that there is actually an imprint of the plastic $2 note on the tube, along the outer edges of the note. In fact, the edges of the note are so sharp that some parts of the tube have been slightly cut by the note, although it did not go through. The actual puncture was found to be on one long edge of the note, near the middle. There was a crease in the note, and this crease actually formed a sharp ridge, that eventually poked a small hole in the tube! The $2 note that enabled me to cycle from Punggol to ECP was also the culprit that poked a hole in the tube. How ironic.

Lessons learned:
1) Avoid using a plastic note as an emergency tire boot, as the sharp edges will cut through the tube, sooner or later. The old paper note might work better.
2) Prepare an emergency tire boot kit, such as the one shown below. It will do a much better job of patching up the tire temporarily.
Park Tool Emergency Tire Boot

As for my new white Kojak tires, I have installed them on the bike.

 White Kojak tires on the gold Wheelsport rims. Quite a strange looking combination.

As seen on the bike

 Only the rear tire has been changed. Not sure if I should also change the front tire to the white Kojaks.

Although my bike is now working fine, somehow I feel that the looks of the white Kojak tires does not match the rest of the bike. What do you think?


  1. i have to agree; white looks bad..

  2. Too much colour already. The grey and gold are already balanced, but the white has upset the balance. D:

  3. yupz I agree that the white tire sidewalls do not fit it. I have since changed to black tires to get back the previous look.

  4. The white kojaks are now on my white S18 Formula. looks stunning! Thanks. ;-)