How To Blow Up A Bicycle Tire (Boom!)

bicycle-13501_640Last week I made a round of calls to several friends and clients. I just wanted to keep in touch. One such call was to my pal Matt Bogdanovich, a former web developer with my company, who now works as an advertising executive for Media Plus. Matt has a great sense of humor, and I had not spoken to him in a couple of months.

He told me about a new bicycle he had just acquired. It was new to him, but it turned out to be a very expensive and rare road bike. He said the guys in the shop all stopped what they were doing to come over and drool on it when he took it in to make it road ready. It was a cool looking bike that weighed like a pocket full of feathers. It is quite the rocket ship!

Matt was planning a Saturday ride, so I asked if I might go along. I have not ridden my own bike in a few years. No excuse, just sayin’. Matt was magnanimous as usual and told me he would pick me up around 10am. So on Saturday, I took the bike down from the rack in the garage and dusted it off. I noticed that the tires were flatter than cow pies, so I flipped it upside down and fired up the air compressor. The writing on the side of the tires said 40-65 psi, so I went ahead and pumped 65 in the front tire. I figured I would need that due to my ahem… excess tonnage.

As I moved to the rear tire, there was a very loud “BOOM”! I knew what happened, but my wife immediately poked her head out to make sure there were no drive-by shootings. Matt was already on the way from Palo Cedro, so I jammed on down to the bike shop on Bechellin Ln. Those folks are great! They hooked me up with a new tube and tire, then mounted it right away so I could be on my merry way to ride the river trail.

While he was working on my tire, Ryan (the shop owner) explained that this is a common occurrence when you try to quickly pump up a completely deflated inner tube like that. It seems that the tube can get pinched between the rim and the tire bead, thereby cutting the tube when rapidly inflated. The trick he showed me is to sneak about 15 pounds of air in there, then spin the tire to sort of stabilize the whole operation before finishing the job. Makes sense.

He also related a funny story about a police officer who once did a similar thing, only he made it clear to the inside of the police station before the tube popped! The other cops of course were understandably alarmed, and I guess they did not let the guy live it down any time soon.

Matt let me try to ride his crotch rocket, but I could not. It has those teeny pedals and pointy saddle which gave me an early Christmas goose! I prefer my pedals the size of cinder blocks, and a seat more like a padded bar stool.

So the takeaway from this story? Ride your bike more often. Go slow when you pump things up. And if things get sideways, hope you are in the bike shop, not the cop shop!

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