Riding the Wiggle CX Century
The problem was simple rider error, sitting too close to the man in front I couldn’t see the trail clearly. So I missed the large, square edged brick that was quite clearly sitting in the middle of the trail. Speeds were high and with no chance to lessen the impact, I hit it full on. Cue a massive loss of air and sealant, that was made worse by the fact that the trail wasn’t narrow enough to allow me to pull off safely, with all the other riders behind me. I had to carry on downhill, spewing air and sealant everywhere!
When I was able to finally stop the tyre was completely flat. With the field rapidly passing me, I tried to re-inflate the tyre, hoping it would magically work, I’m new to this tubeless thing remember and this was my first puncture. Pumping like mad, nothing was happening, so I remembered being told that you must have a clean rim for the seal to happen. Carefully I cleaned all round the rim and then spotted the small gash in the tyre, too big for sealant to work on.
Great! A chance to try the tubeless repair kit I had brought along, just in case. When a hole is too large for the sealant to work on, roughly 3mm, you can use one of two options to repair it. The first is a piece of furry ‘string’. This is pushed through the gap, with glue/lubricant creating a tight seal. If you still have some sealant this will also help fill the hole and you should be able to get away.
Another option is a tyre specific ‘super-glue’ the ordinary stuff is apparently not good as it dries out the rubber. You can use this in one of two ways, either gluing the hole in-situ, or removing the tyre and applying a patch to the inside. I was going with the furry string method.
Off with the tyre and it was here that I realised that my uncontrolled downhill run had emptied my tyre, there was no sealant left and I wasn’t carrying any spare. Lesson learnt for next year. So it was plan B, good old-fashioned inner tube. By now I was well and truly on my own and faced with a day of chasing.
All plans of pacing were gone and I had my head down and was desperately trying to make up for lost time. Fortunately the start of the South Downs Way is fairly mellow, all the climbing is packed into the last third, so I was able to keep up a good pace. I was being more careful than when riding my tubeless set-up, the thought of another puncture was unbearable!
It wasn’t until the checkpoint at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park – which has a fantastic, smooth grass downhill before you get there, guaranteed to have you grinning – that I started to see the rear of the pack. I was in and out as quick as possible. With nine checkpoints on the route, even a five-minute stop would add forty-five minutes to your time and I really wanted to catch the rest of my party!
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