Internal Detours
Friday, May 30, 2008
I still haven't glued the Panaracer tubulars onto the Peugeot's rims, but I did have time to go through my stash of old tubies. Surprise, surprise, surprise - I appear to have some good spares!

Well - sort of. What I've got is an ancient Gommitalia with somewhat abraded sidewalls but a good rimstrip that holds air. I've also got a pair of Continental Triathlons left over from the last time I rode sewups, which means they've been kicking around unused for seven or eight years. They both were rebuilt by TireAlert, which means the rim strips are a little dodgy. That may not be TireAlert's fault - apparently, Continental's tubies are noted for being hard to fit with new rim strips. At the same time, I still remember July 4, 2000, when I spent almost an hour in the sun picking damaged rimstrip bits off my rim so I could fit a spare and ride home from the middle of nowhere, Abbeville County.

There's a third Conti Triathlon, but it appears to be shot, and has no rimstrip. Adios. And finally, there's a nice Wolber that Dieter gave me that needs yet another rimstrip, but appears otherwise sound and whole. At any rate, I'll have something I can strap up under my saddle when I ride out, just to be sure I can crawl back home in the event of a flat.

All of this is a real flashback. I first started riding tubulars in, what, 1978? 1979? I remember the bike - my much-missed Puch Royal X, the first bike I ever had with a Reynolds 531 frameset. It was pretty much an Austrian version of a PX-10, even down to having less than perfect finish work and white paint that chipped if you looked at it crossly. I'd been riding the bike's stock wheels, which were frankly pretty junky. Normandy Sport hubs laced to basic Weinmann 27-in clincher rims. I'd been trying to use the newly introduced Michelin Elan tires, and no one was telling folks that those required a hook-beaded rim. I was having lots of blow outs - heh - and finally decided, enough. I'll go to tubulars.

I had my first sewup wheels built by George Crook at Bikeways of Atlanta, the same guy who sold me the Puch. They were Mavic Montlhery eyeletted rims built up onto Weyless sealed bearing hubs, a pretty trick combo for the time. The hubs were considered suitable for riders weighing 155 or less, which worked fine for me at 125, my adolescent weight. The tires were Hutchinson Super Sprints. The standard tires on assorted French and English bikes, the Super Sprints were much maligned. Mine worked beautifully, especially the front one, which had a latex tube. It was the only Hutchinson I ever encountered with one of those.

Later on, I tried early Panaracer nylon tires. Too fragile. I didn't get much use out of my first one, which succumbed to a sidewall cut. The funky black Wolber I used on the back for a while worked pretty well, at the expense of being really ugly. I think those were on the tires that were on the Puch when I sold it in '87 to buy a Fender Vibroluxe Reverb amplifier.

When I got back into the cycling world, and tubulars, I bought some cheap Clements, basic vulcanized rubber things. They were okay, and I can't remember where those went. I know I used them on various PX-10s and Gitanes I had, and I think I was using some on my old Trek fixed-gear c. 1999. Then I got out of the tubular world sometime in late 2000, and went to clinchers only.

Sure, I didn't have to sew up tires after repairing punctures. But I missed the springiness of tubies. I just hope I feel that way the next time I have a flat somewhere with one ...
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