Monday, June 26, 2006

Pat Rodden's Cautionary Tale of Woe

Michael Rasmussen is one of the many SIR members providing support on the Cascade 1200K. He's also writing wonderfully descriptive field reports and also collecting some great feedback from the riders. Michael forwarded the following note to me from Pat Rodden and I'm reprinting it here with Pat's permission.

To: Michael Rasmussen
From: Pat Rodden
Subject: Cascade 1200 - Pat Rodden
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006 10:28:47 -0700

Hi Michael,

Just wanted to close the loop on my 1200 experience which all in all was wonderful albeit shorter than I had planned. Once I reached Ellensburg yesterday the gravitational pull of the West grabbed me and I headed West on I90 back to Monroe rather than continuing on to Sellah. Up to the point of reaching Ellensburg I had a total of 8 flat tires over the previous 2 days (5 of them were between Cowich and Ellensburg)! I was completely demoralized trying to keep the bike on the road. Many people were quite helpful as I continued to repair tubes throughout the ride and I owe them much thanks as well as a tube or two (and quite possibly an ice cold beer as well).

After heading west on I90 I made it to Rosylin where I had my ninth flat. In the middle of repairing the latest flat on the shoulder of I90 I received a lecture from the state patrol of what I fool I was for being out here in the traffic and heat. He went on to say that there should be a law against riding on the interstate and he would gladly write me a ticket if he could. When I suggested that he give me a ride up to the next exit where I could repair my tire in a safer place he quickly departed. So much for help.

After repairing my ninth flat and getting the wheel back on the bike I set the tire on the ground and listened to my 10th deflate. While I won't admit to shedding any tears I was certainly dumbfounded. I walked the mile to the next exit to regain some composure before repairing the flat. Soon afterward arriving at the 10th exit a good Samaritan saw my predicament and gave me a ride from Rosylin to Preston where I was safely positioned to repair the 10th flat in the Preston Park and Ride. Once I fixed this latest flat I realized I was down to single patch for any further flats. I made it almost to Carnation before using my last patch to repair flat number 11. From this point I limped into Monroe making it in about 6 pm on a poorly inflated tire (I couldn't seem to keep the pressure in the tire). This morning when I retrieved my bike from the back of my truck the back tire was flat. I can't recall having a single flat tire in the last year running on Michelin Pro Race IIs or Schwalbe Marathons.

I failed randonneur 101 and paid the price. After using some wonderful 36mm heavy Schwalbe Marathon tires on the previous Brevets and feeling as if they were too slow and heavy on the eve of the Cascade I switched to 28mm Panaracer T-Serv tires. The mistake is for all others to learn by! Never run Panaracers! They are absolute garbage. 15 years ago I had a similar experience using Panaracers that had terrible side wall support while going up the North Cascades highway. I swore off Panaracers for the past 15 years and thought I was safe using their latest products.

Side Note: While on the bike I was asked by a lot of randonneurs about my hydration system. I mounted a Camelbak StoAway 100 oz. on the bike frame just behind the head tube and below the top tube and then routed the tube for easy access while on the bike. This gets the water supply (and weight) off of your back and on to the bike. In addition I had a camelback on my back (without a bladder) that I would use to stuff ice into and let it melt down my back. It works well for about an hour and a half and I never once had problems with the heat (although I missed out on the worst of the heat up the Rattlesnake Hills). It seems to work well in two ways. Direct application of the cold to your back and also the evaporative cooling
that takes place when the water evaporates off of your bike. Others might want to consider a similar setup when the weather is predicted to be as hot as it turned out to be.

Thanks again to all the wonderful volunteers (yourself included) for making the Cascade 1200 a great ride!

All the best,

Pat Rodden

On Jun 26, 2006, at 11:17 AM, Kent Peterson wrote:

Wow. Pat would you mind our sharing this cautionary
tale with the great blogosphere? We can edit out
your email address.

Now I'm nervous, I just switched from my tried
and true (and despised by many) Specialized Armadillos
for (slightly) lighter, wider and cushier Contis (Top
Touring in the back, Contact up front) But I will have
a week or so of testing before I take them up to VanIsle.
And I do carry a spare folding tire.

Were all the flats explainable or did you get mystery

Great tip on the Camelbak.


Hi Kent,

You are all welcome to publish my account. 10 of the flats were on the back wheel with just one on the front coming from a thorn. I found 4 flats with small wires that pierced directly through the centerline of the tire. Two flats total were from thorns. The balance I have no idea with no obvious source of a flat. Actually I take that back because two of the flats were my having to repair my previous patches with glueless patches. I am not sure if I did not clean the area sufficiently or if it was the heat that would not allow the patch to adhere properly. I assume some of the flats were pinch flats from me installing the tire improperly althought the tires did go onto the rim with ease (the only good thing I can say about the Panaracers). Prior to the Cascade 1200 I only had about 35 miles on the tires and those miles came from the relatively clean roads of Whibey Island.

Another note on the Camelbak - I had to add about 8" on to the off the shelf tube that comes with the StoAway Camelbak to get it in the ideal position for drinking. Throughout the ride I drank ice water using the system. The bag is somewhat insulated and the water stayed cold until the last drop. You just need to make sure you cinch the bag to the frame in at least two places to secure it so that it does not get in the way of the knees. I also cut out the center of the water bottle holder and mounted it to the down tube to 'center' the bag.

Every time I go to fill up the bag it reminds me of filling the car at the gas station!

All the best,



nollij said...

Any photos of the camelback setup? Would love to see how that was done, as I hate carrying the damn things on my back!

Anonymous said...

Man, tire experiences do vary. I have never used the T-Servs, but if I had to pick a tire maker and commit for life, it would be Panaracer. Their Paselas are great tires in my experience. I have many thousands of miles and several brevets on the 28mm version. They also make the RollyPolly/RuffyTuffys, which I would probably use if I were in a higher tax bracket.

Len said...

I agree with Andrew, it may be the model, it is not the brand. I have many thousands of miles on Paselas and RuffyTuffy/RollyPollys over the last five years. My two flats (so far) were on (1) the Cascade 1200 last year, when a chunk of glass put a substantial hole in the sidewall of a Pasela and (2) a pinch flat on a SpeedBlend RuffyTuffy on the Not a Nutritional Role Model ride. Both cases my fault, I should have seen the glass, and on the John Wayne Trail, well, what was I thinking riding an under-inflated 28?
If your bike will fit them, those Pasela 35s are smoooooth.

Kent Peterson said...

And I'll add my $.02 to the "tire experiences vary" thread. I've had HORRIBLE LUCK with Panaracer Paselas. I've found them to be absolute glass magnets (in both the regular and Tour Guard versions). I gave my last set to John Muellner because he loves them and has great luck with them. And Jon rides pretty much the same roads that I do. He goes thousands of miles between flats, I can't go twenty miles without flatting those tires. Go figure.

On the other hand, I usually have good luck with Continental Tires and some folks have had various side-wall problems with those.

Experiences vary.

Jim said...

When I worked a shop that sold primarily Conti tires, I saw a lot of the GatorSkins coming back with cut sidewalls, but the other Conti models seemed to not have this problem. I have two bikes set up with Conti Top Tourings (sadly discontinued), and I haven't had any flats on either, after several thousand miles. My experience with the regular Paselas has been good - not super flat resistant, but they ride nice and are a good tire for the money (IMO). I'm with Andrew, probably, in committing to Panaracers for life (if I had to pick one tire maker).

John said...

I'll have to go with the positive impressions on the Panaracer Paselas. Very smooth ride and I've gone several hundred miles flat free. The only thing in question is their durability, but from the sound of everyone else's experience it appears they last pretty well too.

Cellarrat said...

Conti fan here.... very few flats with contacts here even riding them off road =)

Cool tips with the camel bak... gonna have to play with a frame mounted blader mabe with one of those jannd frame bags?

Anonymous said...

Yikes, the bad luck here is even
contagious. I only read the darn thing and sure enough *I* got a flat on my way home.

rob hawks

Ed Felker said...

Your woes nearly made me cry. Fixing a flat sucks, doing it more than once would take so much patience. The first thing I thought when I read your account was that after the second or third flat, change the tire. I always carry a spare foldable tire on brevets and randonnees. We changed the front tire & tube on the tandem during the Cascase 1200 because it went soft on the run-in to Mazama. We pumped it on the road and it felt fine the next morning, but we didn't want to take a chance and pulled spares from my drop bag. Also we use traditional patches. We found glueless are temporary at best.

Sam Huffman said...

I have ridden Avocet tires for years with great success, but in the heat of day 2 I had 6 flat tires with 5 unique causes.

The Avocets seemed to really soften up in the heat, and debris that I usually don't have problems with just went right through the casing.

The last couple flats were due to a sidewall gash on Rattlesnake Hills. By then I was out of tubes, but thankfully Dave and Charlie rolled by and gave me one of their spares. Good thing too, as I was a bit too delirious at that point to deal with a patch.

Gerald kindly helped me apply a $20 bill boot to the front tire, and that held for a couple hundred miles including the speedy day 3 Loup Loup and McNeil descents before I fitted a new Gatorskin on day 4 (Thanks Donald!)