After Wednesday’s puncture, I inspected the rear tyre on Saturday evening, and decided to ditch it in favour of a new Velofex Record in view of the number of cuts I could see. I popped in an equally unused Vittoria inner tube. On Sunday morning I topped up the tyres with a bit more air, and noticed that I’d snapped off the threaded nut off the valve core. Oh, well I thought – at least the air that’s in will stay there. Well, so I thought, but this was merely the prelude to a comedic series of minor disasters that afflicted my ride in today’s ’25’.The weather was OK, though a little autumnal with a light and lifting mist. More annoying was the rising north wind that promised assistance on the southbound outward leg of the course, but would be correspondingly troublesome on the return leg. Tony and I had travelled over, very conveniently our start times were only five minutes apart – I was #21, Tony #26. Not too bad a start, reasonably warm as I lined up. At the appointed moment I departed, quite briskly, off to the roundabout and slip road to join the A1 southbound from Tempsford. I even negotiated the potholes at the little flyover roundabout. The wind wasn’t giving me as much help as I’d expected, as I proceeded south through Girtford and across the Sandy roundabout, where I unfortunately got slowed by traffic.
On again, and safely and cleanly across the next roundabout. I was feeling pretty good, and reeling in riders ahead of me when I became aware of the bumping so characteristic of a rear wheel puncture. Groaning to myself, I pulled into the slip road of the BP garage just short of the Baldock roundabout turn (so about 12 miles from the race HQ). Well, I thought, at least I brought a tube and gas inflater along with me (which had amused Tony no end back at Tempsford). I removed the wheel, which is a pretty dirty business with the Cervelo due to the rear facing dropouts, and started effecting a repair. I saw Tony come by, and he shouted that he’d come and pick me up in the car.
Nevertheless, I decided to carry on with the repair, not least because is was something to do! I got the tyre off and removed the tube. Popped in the replacement tube and refitted the tyre. Next I tried inflating the tyre with the single CO2 cylinder I had for the inflator. This proved an unmitigated disaster – it was hard to use the inflater chuck on the trispoke (but this reflects cack-handedness rather than an inherent problem), and the inflater chuck had come apart in my seatpack. Once all that was sorted, I proceeded to contribute to global warming by releasing the entire cylinder contents into the atmosphere. At least Tony was coming to rescue me.
Which he did, having ridden to a 56:28 result. Back to the HQ to have a cup of tea and see what other riders had managed. Matt Bottrill looked to be the clear winner with 50:52, an astonishing performance and indicative of good chances for a placing at the forthcoming British Time Trial Championship in three weeks’ time.
Postscript. Back home I went to pump up the repaired rear tyre, only to find the tube was defective and wouldn’t hold even a smidgen of air. So the CO2 would have all dissipated even had I got the inflater attached correctly.