The group had decided on an easy trail that everyone could enjoy at their own pace. We convened with just enough time to complete a short after work ride and joked and laughed as everyone donned shoes, helmets and packs. On the trail and finally rolling, the group spreading out, we each began to find a groove and after ten minutes everyone was feeling good.
Closer to the front than the rear of the group I wasn’t pushing particularly hard, but I was enjoying the flow of the trail and couldn’t resist a few roosts and pumps through the slightly bermed corners. While the trail was fairly smooth it was studded with the usual root or two and even a couple small rock gardens where well intended trail workers had been unable to sanitize an otherwise clean track.
As I drifted out of one of those corners and gave the old bike a little gas the sweet lightness of my new tires was a welcome relief from the heavy trail tires I had been running. The arc of the turn coming out of the berm naturally flowed over a few rocks that yesterday wouldn’t have merited a second look and so I just ran them over with little thought of anything but the sweet feel of flying. Suddenly the angry hissing and spitting of a tubeless puncture broke the near silence. I pulled over hoping I could get it to seal before losing too much air, but the hole in the middle of the brand new tire refused to comply. It coughed and sputtered and acted like it wanted to heal, but the addition of even a few pounds of pressure re opened the wound like an ex-wife’s insult. All bleeding, no healing.
The group had, by that time, amassed along the trail and offered various tips and taunts on how to deal with the problem, including offers to waste their own co2 cartridges in the futile effort. By this time it was evident there was no choice but to pull the tire and install a tube. Damn, where were the tire plugs? That would have been a great moment to amaze my friends with a trick most of them had never even heard of but is as common as a cold where I come from.
The sun dropped relentlessly lower on the horizon. The group was getting restless. I realized this required extraordinary measures. As I went to my pack in search of the tube I hoped was sitting intact in the bottom, I remembered the cookies. Yes, I do carry fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on occasion because I deserve them. Today, however, I decided to use them to placate the masses and give me some time for a quick tube change. As the group started in on my cookie stash I could see the trick was working. I had plenty of time to wipe out the messy sealant, remove the valve core, and install a tube before the mid ride snack had completely disappeared.
Back on the trail, everyone seemed satisfied and happy. No complaints about waiting around for this tire changer. In fact we were all the richer for the fun we shared as everyone ate my cookies, made fun of my new tires, and watched me perform my best imitation of an Indy 500 pit crew.