bruce cancelled our trip to ponkapoag bog this morning (excuse: allergies) so suddenly my day was free. i should've gone out and taken advantage of this nice weather (warm, blue sky) but instead i did some bike work.

i had a chance to examine my flat front tire. it didn't take long to discover the cause: a screw had puncture the wheel right down the middle. i went ahead and tried to remove the tire from the wheel, which on this trek bike is particularly difficult to take off. it didn't help that the tips of my plastic tire levers were all bent out of shape from the last time i did some on the trek wheel. after numerous valiant attempts, i finally gave up. time for the professionals.

i took my wheel to the local bike shop. i don't know what it is, but no matter how busy they are, they always have time to fix the things i bring in. the owner (i found out today that his name is carl) took a look at my wheel. he told me how much it'd cost: $5 for a new inner tube, $5.50 for labor. he thought it'd be quick work; i ended up getting my money's worth.

he had a hard time removing the tire, which was my problem. it made him think i had the wrong size tire for my wheel, so after he finally managed to take it off (with a combination of steel and plastic levers), he went searching for a replacement tire. for some reason he thought i had a 28" wheel, but when he got a spare 28" tire, it was obvious that tire was much too large for my 26" wheel. then he thought maybe it was because my rim tape was too wide, so he went ahead and replaced that ($3) before putting on a new inner tube and my old tire. he had a hard time putting on the tire, and things were flying off his work desk as he began to knocks tools over. when he finally got it on, he realized the rim tape was the wrong size because it was poking out of the seam. so he had to take the tire off once more, but swore he wasn't going to put it back on. so instead i bought a new 26" tire, one that was actually less wide (1.5" versus the 1.75" of my old tire) but manufactured with a slightly more forgiving clearance. he also put in yet another new inner tube, afraid that he might've punctured the previous one.

so what was supposed to be an easy $10 fix took more than half an hour and cost me $40:

kenda 26" x 1.5 city/road tire
rim tape
sunlite steel tire levers
inner tube
$ 3.00
$ 3.99
$ 4.99
$ 5.50
$ 2.00

i also bought a set of steel tire levers ($3.99, a bargain considering it would've cost me $7 online due to shipping cost) in preparation for the next time i have to change a bike tire.

my old tire was a innova 26" x 1.75 (47-559) but sold through bell and advertised as their "bell comfort bike tire with kevlar." apparently kevlar is no match for a screw in the road. i bought it from k-mart, which might speak to it's quality (although up to this point i'd never had any problems with the tire other than being extremely difficult to remove and install). this new tire is a kenda 26" x 1.50 (40-559). i checked aawyeah and saw they sell it for $5 less.

i added some nuts and washers to my makeshift rear rack mounts; the long threaded screws have a tendency to loosen over time. hopefully the nuts/washers will solve this problem.

i also tried my hand at patching the puncture on my old tire. i've been pretty lucky when it comes to avoiding flats. the last time i got a flat tire (on a bicycle) was nearly a decade ago on the minuteman bike trail. (i did get a flat tire on my motorcycle back in 2005). but this was my first since i started biking again a few years ago. i was doing it for purely educational purposes since my wheel was already fixed. patching a puncture turned out to be surprisingly easy; i suppose out in the field the hardest part of the job is removing the tire and getting to the inner tube. i sandpapered the area around the puncture, applied the rubber cement to both the sanded area and the patch, waited for the glue to dry, then stuck the patch onto the puncture. finished!

i also replaced the squeaky brake pads on my fuji, which sounded like a small dog getting runned over every time i braked to a stop. i bought these pads last summer but never installed them. even after a year they still smell strongly of rubber (although usually i don't put my nose to my brakes so this shouldn't be a problem). convex washers allow fine adjustments, i can't imagine how you'd get a good fit otherwise. the front brakes went on fine, but the rear brakes i had to release the cable a bit for some clearance. i also reversed the washers so the smaller ones were on the brake pad side since space was limited. i'm happy to report the squeaks are gone. stopping-wise i don't notice much improvement but that's not the pads fault, since the smooth rims on these old wheels don't have good grippage.

i took the fuji bike (with new brakes) down to the cafe for a test ride. they worked fine, no complaints. i let my father borrow my new mini-torch because he was biking back home but couldn't find his headlight (which is just a fancy flashlight which might've been stolen). returning home i stopped by the rite aid to get some snacks.

my roommate came home around 7:00, his final night of living at my place. i asked him for his bike lock key so i could move his ride to the basement for security reasons. his flight is 7:50 tomorrow morning so i won't even see him after tonight. i'll have the house to myself for almost 3 weeks before my next roommate arrives. later in the evening he came to tell me he spilled some water in the bathroom. apparently he was filling a wash basin (what the hell was he doing?) in the sink and spilled it all over the bathroom floor, including the carpet and the scale. he looked at me like he didn't know what to do. chinese astrophysicists know nothing! i grabbed my bath towel and began drying the floor. i gave him a new towel and told him to throw it in the washer after he was done wiping.

i was so impressed with these new brake pads performance that i ended up ordering 4 more pairs from ebay (at $1.72 a pair).