I don’t get many flats. That’s thanks to a good luck and good tires. (If you must know: Schwalbe Mondials and Sammy Slicks.) I haven’t jumped onto the tubeless wagon for the simple fact that tubes haven’t given me enough trouble to give it much thought.
Then came last week. I hit a roofing nail on Highway 34 west of the Kawasaki plant. I changed it without trouble and finished my ride. A couple days later, the tire was flat again. The new tube must have had a slow leak.
No problem. I still had three more brand new tubes. So I changed it again. Except that new tube had a hole. So did the second. And so did the cotton picking third.
All the holes were in the same spot—a couple inches from the stem. I realized they had the tubular equivalent of saddle sores. While each coiled spare tube waited (and waited) for me to flat, they rattled and jiggled and bounced along in my bag. And slowly, those presta valve heads scratched their way through the rubber to ruin my day.
(You may ask: Why were you carrying three spare tubes? They wouldn’t have all been ruined had you only carried one. To that, I have a three-word answer: Because Dirty Kanza.)
So I hatched a new plan. Now, before I take a new tube with me, I unwrap it, noting where it folds over the stem. And I slap a small square of duct tape at that point. Then I rewrap it and head on my merry way.
I hope that tape provides enough backing to keep the problem from returning. I also hope it’s a long time before I flat again and find out whether it works.