Helping stranded cyclists

…or, why I’ll be getting a frame pump tomorrow.

Today, early in my ride, I came across a stranded cyclist. As is my habit, I asked "you good?", which is about all you can get out in the time it takes me to pass someone standing still. Usually the answer is yes, and I pedal on. Today, the answer was "not really".

So I stopped. I don’t have rescue fantasies (I have a real job doing that) but I’m a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of guy and I’ll help when I can. This cyclist was on flat number two, had a tube that was maybe-repaired correctly, and was out of CO2 cartridges. I have 2 CO2 bottles. One was expended (not by me) harmlessly into the air trying to inflate the suspect tube.

So, I gave away my spare tube and last CO2 bottle. Having nothing more to add, I bid my fellow cyclist farewell, and turned for home. Yes, I still have a patch kit, but no way to inflate a flat should I get it repaired. I have always wondered if the CO2 inflators were the way to go, and now I know.

Update: I now have a frame pump. It’s ugly. We’ll see if I keep it.


  1. I like how you put that – “a ‘we’re all in this together’ guy”.

  2. Good job.

    It’s a good idea to practice fixing your tube and inflating it with a CO2 cartridge at home.
    Better to know the routine in the comfort of home than when isolated and tired on a hot day.
    Practice both front and back tires.

    It helps to inflate the tube slightly so that it doesn’t twist and rip another hole when pinching the tire back on. This takes a little practice when using a CO2 cartridge…or you can just use your mouth.

    I put my spare tubes each in a plastic baggie so that they don’t get holes by rubbing against your bike tools. When I change the tube on the back tire I use the plastic baggie to hold the chain to avoid greasing my hand.

    You can also use a sports bar wrapper to put in between the tire and tube if there is a big rent in the tire…so that the tube doesn’t herniate out of it when you inflate it…and pop again.

    There are some light, jersey-sized pumps that work pretty good. Though they do take a few more strokes to inflate completely.

  3. I have some gloves with permanent grease stains on the back, so the baggie idea merits thought.

    I’d never heard the sports-bar wrapper idea, always a piece of nylon fabric (which I don’t carry, either). I have an ID (DL and ins card wrapped in clear tape) I could use for such a prupose, I suppose. I’m surprised mylar will put up with that kind of punsihment.

    Dunno any jersey pumps. Suppose I should look into that.

  4. autolycos says:

    Mylar can actually put up with some pretty impressive abuse until there is a tear in it.

    To keep from abusing your tubes, you can also give them some rub protection with baby powder or corn starch.

    Also to avoid greasing your hand, you can check out different lubes. In the winter, when I ride my beater, I lube with gear oil (90 weight) until it’s below 40, then I switch to 30 weight motor oil. But, in good weather, I use bicycle lube that doesn’t stain. White lightning is one that I’ve heard recommended. Ask your local bike shop.

    But, a chain that leaves dirty oily stains is one that is losing metal due to friction. Lube liberally and clean often.

  5. Topeak Road Morph.

  6. Waterford says:

    Your blog is great, whether you are commenting on medicine or biking. Biking is my passion, but recently I have been a major medical consumer.

    Back to cycling. For me, the best way to ride is with a group. We challenge each other and we make sure we are safe. We’re never short on tubes, patches, pumps, or opinions. Sometimes, another rider will change my flat, while other times, I change someone else’s. It’s a way of letting each other know how much we care.

    Saturday was my first ride with these great friends since three operations spanning about six months. We did 33 miles. My goal is RAGBRAI in late July. I will do it, come hell or hernias!

  7. Thanks for all of your comments, especially those new here reading about my (new) cycling hobby.