23 January 2012
My day off the bike in Kampot was spent hanging out with Justin and Emma, reading, eating, strolling around the town and getting some fixes done on the bike.
One of the bike fixes was the supposedly simple task of putting more air in the rear tyre. Knowing I had 150km on the slate for today, I wanted to get as much air into it as possible. The tube had other ideas, rupturing right next to the valve so it can't be patched. I installed my last fully functional spare tube. (I have another spare that has a slow puncture that I'm unable to locate.) I also replaced my rear brake pads.
I met Justin and Emma for breakfast and passed a few things onto them, and rolled out about 10:30am. I resolved to put down 40km before stopping, which I did. The first 20km and the next 20km each went down in around 50 minutes, which was reassuring. Good surface, light traffic, though no sign of the tailwind I'd been hoping for.
Lunch didn't happen. I stopped at one restaurant to ask about food and drink to be told they had none. This, oddly, turned out to work in my favour, as I ended up needing every minute I had on the road.
At around 95km down, it seems my rear tyre pressure has fallen. The first sign is a 'shear' effect where the rear wheel doesn't track true after the front. I decide to keep an eye on it, and press on. It doesn't take many more kilometres to be unable to deny that my tyre is losing air.
I have some options, but none is ideal: a) replace the current slow-punctured tube with the spare tube that I know to have a slow puncture, and hope the replacement is better, b) try to repair the current tube, c) constantly pitstop to reinflate the tube, while riding like mad in between, d) seek transport. I opt for c) thinking that if the tube fails further, at least I'll be changing or repairing it when it's cooler and I'm closer to the city.
So I ride fifty kilometres or so in short blocks of 3-4 kilometres, pitstopping between each block to boost tyre pressure. At first, it totally ruins my riding rhythm, but then it takes on a rhythm of its own. I keep the dust cap off the valve, and my minipump in my jersey. Each pitstop is a question of pulling over, propping the bike, turning the rear wheel so the valve is in a convenient pumping position, putting in 60-70 pump strokes of air, and getting going again. I stop maybe 20 times. Oddly, this subpar situation makes me concentrate on my riding, and distracts me from my growing hunger.
I've just got to limp into the city. Jury rig the mains'l boys, and double rations of grog if we make safe haven before nightfall.
When I cross the intersection with highway 4, I feel like all will be ok. I navigate easily through the city to the guesthouse I'm planning to stay at, and arrive just as the light fails.
Justin and Emma have spoken highly of the Giant bike shop in Phnom Penh, so I'll head there to either buy tubes, or more likely, buy tyres and tubes. My tyres are great, but if I can't find trustworthy tubes to fit inside them, they're as good as useless. I also need to have my bottom bracket seen to by someone who knows about these things. It's shaping up to be an expensive stay in the Cambodian capital.
153km, 22.5km/h, 6hr48min, 4772km