Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good year for flats (so far)

Tuesday I had a flat tire.

Which, strangely, has become unusual... it was only the 5th flat tire of the year.

(I know. You're thinking, "What kind of weirdo counts his flat tires?" ME! Maybe I was a statistician in another life, but I just love keeping track of stuff.)

By comparison, historically I've had upwards of 25 flats in any given year. I've bought patch kits a half-dozen at a time! I've had three flat tires in a day, on a couple occasions. I've "joked" (?) that the only reason I ride a bike is so I could enjoy my hobby - fixing flat tires!

What has changed?

I'm not sure.

I'm using puncture-resistant tires, but that's pretty much standard procedure. I've got a cheap tire, but with a kevlar belt, on the front. And for most of the year I've had a Continental Top Touring tire on the back. It's a tire that's no longer available, and its relative high cost always discouraged me from using it regularly. But maybe not having flats is worth a few extra bucks.

(For the record, four of the '09 flats have been the front tire, and only one on the back - and the one on the back was caused by my own mistake. I overinflated the tire, and it popped off the rim.)

Later in the year I'm planning on buying some upscale Schwalbe tires, using $ that has come available through my employer's new alt-transportation incentive program. (It rewards regular bike commuters with $20 per month for bike-related expenses. Sweeet! $240 per year should keep me in some NICE rubber! And several of you readers have given the Schwalbes the thumbs-up.)

The next 3 months or so are the "goathead-critical" months. The goatheads are coming on strong! And they'll start getting dry and crispy and blowing to and fro. I expect my year-end flat tire total to at least be in the double-digits.


Josh said...

I've never had a flat with my Bontrager Racelight Hardcase tires. I know that you ride more than I do, but my first set (that came with my Trek 1200c) lasted about 4000 miles before the tread on the rear tire started coming off (due to using it on an indoor trainer, I think). I've got a couple thousand miles on the new set, and still no flats. I suppose I should be knocking on wood now, but they've been great tires, and they're not terribly expensive.

I'd be interested to hear more about your employer's $20 per month program. Did you have to push for that? Is it administered by a third party? How is it managed? Distributed?

Clancy said...

I ran into the motherload of goatheads yesterday. I ran to Georges on Front yesterday and was riding back to the Greenbelt. I took a shortcut that I had done before and didn't even think. I ran through a carpet of them and must of had 50-60 per tire. I made it about mile back to work then my rear went flat when I started pulling out the remaining offenders. The front had slime and is okay.

I am running the Schwalbe Big Apples 26x2.35" on my Xtracycle. They have some kevlar protection and they protect from the usual 1 or 2 goatheads. I now know they cannot protect from full on assaults.

Bikeboy said...

Josh, regarding the employer-provided incentive... I've briefly commented on it before.

In a nutshell, the federal "Bicycle Commuter Act" implemented some employer tax incentives to pass on to bike-commuting employees. Up to $20 per month.

I had complained long and loud about my employer providing a $40/month parking subsidy to people who drive their cars to work alone every day, while providing nothing to bike commuters and other user of alt-transportation. (They finally asked me to cease and desist with the complaining... got a "restraining order.") But apparently I wasn't the only person who saw the injustice and/or misplaced incentive, because it's law.

Obviously each employer can choose whether to take advantage of the incentive... but I believe if they provide $20/month, they can write that amount off their corporate income taxes.

I just have to keep my receipts for bike-related purchases, declare myself as a bike-commuter, and fill out a form at the end of the year. They reimburse me, up to $20/month for the months I bike-commute (12 months, each and every year). I asked if I could buy a new bike, and "amortize" it at $240/year over several years. Nope.

db said...

Yeah, I'm dreading the body count in the upcoming goathead season. Need to stock up on slime tubes.

Seth said...

This is prime goathead picking season. If you find them. Pull them out from the center and all the thorns will stay on! Throw it in the trash save and ton of headaches for everyone. Also stay of any sidewalk in garden city. I've seen them all the way across the side walk and down into the street in some places.