These are the key words for this week’s adventures. The first two could be taken as buzz kill but really, they had redeeming elements. All year long I’ve had issues with the rubber cement sold as patch glue here. Steve has a theory that it’s missing a key ingredient found in what we use in the U.S. which makes this glue less toxic (less huff-able), but more apt to fail. At least half my flats have been due not to punctures but to failed patches and tube seams. What could I be doing wrong? It was not a problem in the U.S.. I’d been waiting the required 4 minutes before applying the patch, then noticed other people didn’t always do that, so I tried putting them on immediately. No difference. I tried different ways of roughing up the tube (the tube sanders are quite different here). Nope. I’ve also had it “professionally” done by repair shops.
Mainly what seems to be different is the kind of patch glue. One shop used a brand which said “non-flammable.” It lasted the least time, about 30 minutes of riding and he charged the most! (still super cheap) Last Wednesday while I was rushing back for group graduation photos, I got a flat. After pumping up the replacement I found it wouldn’t hold air either. Luckily I noticed a repair shop just up the road and showed the fellow my problem. He Dremel-tooled off the offending patches and cement from both tubes and started over. A well inflated tire is a thing of beauty at such times. Then he wouldn’t accept payment! Foreigner kindness; sometimes it’s embarrassing. I thought I was over the tube drama for a while, then I got an actual puncture on my way out of town Saturday. Tire liners and slime seem to be unknown here, and tubeless? I wish. Maybe they’re available in larger cities with bigger cycling populations, but not here.
Both times I was going out or coming back from the search for the Dong’anxiang Memorial Archway Relic Site, an interesting sounding place I found on the map in a direction I haven’t explored much. If it does exist where the map says it should be, it must be really well hidden. For my second attempt I tried a more “direct” route, which ended up being neither a real route nor direct. It’s hard to read the thin gray lines of the small ”B” roads on my phone outdoors, so sometimes I end up taking a good road to a village only to find that there’s no through route. If I don’t want to backtrack I have to take dirt paths.
That’s what happened Saturday. Those farmers were probably yelling “it’s a dead end!” but I didn’t understand until I got to the end of the lane and saw canal ahead and no path left or right. Instead of backtracking I made my way through the canola and wheat to a bridge I’d seen in the distance. Once across the canal, I saw that there were only more muddy farm lanes through the scenic fields of wheat ahead. I knew I had to be in the vicinity of the village with the alleged archway. I chose the right path to the village this time, only with no more luck locating the relic. I took an easier way home.
So I shouldn’t have any more flats for a while, right? Last evening- three. The older patches had given out, but the fellow at that nearby repair shop wouldn’t charge me either. I think I’ll just buy another tube.