Mahalo to an old Conti tire, and to Oahu bicyclists who pay it forward.

@postaday 162; #postaday2011.

My stats via Garmin Connect.

After missing my ride yesterday, I was eager to get rolling this morning, so I left the house about 7 a.m. The wind was brisk, so I decided to just do the valleys and then wrap up with a couple of wienie hills in Koko Kai above Portlock. Today’s blog entry is a shout out to Oahu bicyclists who helped me today when I had a blowout (technically a puncture). Numerous people offered to help, asked me if I were OK, and four people were very instrumental in getting me back on the road. I even had a friend on Twitter offer assistance. Mahalo! Many of us are affiliated with the Hawaii Bicycle League so as a point of reference, I’m mentioning them in my blog. I think HBL and the many groups that share the road are all about courtesy, assistance, and paying it forward. Then there were a few who saw me, ducked their heads and pedaled on by. Not their problem.

As I was approaching Waialae Iki Park, my back tire blew, a loud boom and a warm rush of air against my right leg. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to slow down and get off the bike and onto the sidewalk without a sissy girl freak out. Dang. I was almost catching somebody, too!

I tweeted, of course:
lavagal Paula Bender
Hot damn. Alone with my first puncture. Trying to remember WTPho to do. Still a little shook up. #FB

To which @Rodney_o replied:
@lavagal Or tubes?
@lavagal Do you need transport?

Wasn’t that nice of him? I tried to calm my mind and think what I needed to do. I had not changed a tube out in about a year, maybe longer. I wasn’t sure I’d remember how to use the CO2 cartridges, etc. I also lamented that I’d have to take it off and put it back on and somehow figure out how to get the chain right. That, I thought, would be my biggest worry.

Two guys stopped to help me about 5 minutes after I pulled over. I think to myself how nice it would be to have help, but, I also think to myself how nice it would be not to be the wilting damsel in distress unable to take care of herself. I’m out there riding alone, I should know these things. I’ve been so lucky that I have not had enough practice in handling such situations. I accepted the offer of assistance and Bruce and Paiea got to work. Interesting. Bruce was on a Bianchi, the traditional Celeste green bicycle; Paiea was on a Merlin, and his saddle was in a shambles. I thought they were together, but when I asked their names for my photos and the blog, they told me and then introduced themselves to each other. And here I thought they were together! Two guys who connected thanks to my disaster.

Bruce in yellow, Paiea in the red, were the first to assist me today. Mahalo!

Unfortunately, two tubes blew while Bruce and Paiea were helping me. They looked at my tire and showed me how brittle it was and it would probably not work if I were to get a new tube into it. I thanked them and sent them on their way. I didn’t want to hold them up any longer. Mahalo, Bruce & Paiea!

I decided to pack things up and head over to the park which was quite close. As I was walking three other bicyclists offered to assist, a guy in a white truck with a dirt bike secured in the back, and a gal in a red truck with two hyper dogs bouncing around inside. I told them my situation, thanked them profusely, and waited for John to complete his marathon clinic.

Katy and Lou got busy helping me out. Lou got me to the point where I could get home if I didn't put too much weight on the back tire.

Then Lou and Katy come by. They were in matching kits, each had an earbud in an ear, were very trim and fit, and extremely friendly. Lou said he wanted to try to help out and would put a tube in for me. Katy examined the wheel’s rim and recommended that new tape be put inside as it was getting brittle and might contribute to the degradation. When Lou got the tube back in and pumped up, he spotted a side split on the tire. When he asked Katy for a wrapper, she teasingly answered that she had no hip-hop rappers on her and then handed him her Cliff Bar wrapper. So there’s something I learned! Lou slid it in between the tire and the tube and said it would probably hold me until I got home. He recommended that I not put much weight on the back tire. Mahalo, Katy & Lou!

The slash on my tire as shown by Lou. Bruce and Paiea had plucked a piece of metal out of the tire earlier.

I shook their hands, said good-bye and realized that I was now holding the wheel. Here I was at that point I dreaded most. What if I mess up the chain trying to get the wheel back on the bike? It took me two tries, but I did it. I got the chain back on the wheel, spun the pedals a little bit, got on for a test drive and shifted successfully.

I then proceeded home and pedaled all the way out of the saddle. I remember when I couldn’t get my ass off the seat. It was a mental block. But now I ride like that whenever I need to put my foot on the gas. And now I know I can do it in an emergency. Yay to John and to Spinervals for helping me get over that lack of confidence in that area.

Right now John is replacing the old red Continentals, “Contis” with new ones. We knew I had been on borrowed time. Those old contis had seen me through three centuries and many, many weekends of substantial rides. Mahalo, John!

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. everyone’s such an alarmist. those GP4Ks had tens of miles left in them, easy. i could almost still see the wear indicators. 😉 glad you had so many helpers out there. i guess that’s easier than paying attention when i tell you how to help yourself. i hope you fanned yourself and said things about the kindness of strangers in a southern accent while you were being rescued. 😀

  2. What actually caused the flat? Was it the tube poking through the hole in the tire?

    You might consider carrying a patch kit. The stick-on type are fine for patching small holes enough to get you home, but aren’t a long-term fix. The type that uses the vulcanizing fluid, if used properly, will provide a long-term fix, and often comes with a large patch suitable for patching your tire.

    A drop of crazy glue is also great for a short-term fix for a puncture from a thorn (make sure to find and pull out the thorn before you put your tube back in your tire), but is too brittle for a long-term fix.

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