Sunday, February 6, 2011

STDs (Severe Tire Damage)

(I stole the term from Neal Stephenson, who has devices in his novel Snow Crash that basically rip the snot out of the tires of any vehicle that crosses them going the wrong way.)

Ah, the other joy of winter riding: potholes. They're generally located off at the side of the road, or it seems that way, which is just where I'll be churning along, trying to avoid patches of ice, water, and slush, and trying not to swing out in front of passing cars. And then one of these beauties will just leap out at me, jarring my whole body as my tires run over it. If I'm really lucky it'll be lurking under a puddle of water, so I'll have no warning at all.

I hit this Mother Of All Potholes yesterday going pretty much full speed along Alta Vista, just off Bank Street.

I felt it, all right: WHUMP! But look at it - with cars coming past me on my left, there was no way to avoid this thing. The crack system runs all the way across the street, too, which means it's only going to get bigger as the winter goes on (especially with the February freeze-and-thaw cycle.) 
And then this afternoon, heading down Bank Street where there was a stretch of hill and I could coast, I felt the familiar shimmy. Once you've had one of these, the feeling is unmistakable. A little wriggle that your bike really shouldn't have, too regular to be bumps in the road. Crap, I thought, and pulled over, got onto the sidewalk, picked the back end up, and spun the tire, looking for the lump. And there it was, that bulge, meaning the sidewalls of the tire had finally had all they can take and they ain't taking no more.

It's not as bad as the last one (which was pretty spectacular.) But it does mean I'm going to have to head out looking for a new tire tomorrow. I know what happens when you let something like this go. But man, is it ever a dirty, dirty time of year to be changing tires.

And, once again, I've been reminded that potholes aren't just uncomfortable. They can end up costing you your tires too. All right, all right, cosmos: I'll go back to trying to avoid them. Difficult as that can be, at this time of year.


  1. They can cost cars and motorcycle tires, too. In fact, weren't you with me on the trip to Montagne D'Argent where I did in a tire to a pothole?

  2. The folks over at are pretty responsive when informed of large potholes. Well worth a quick email, and follow up if it isn't fixed in a few days.

  3. You may remember hitting a pothole on Highway 104 just south of Burtts Corner that instantly flattened both right tires on our old Peugeot. The Grandmother of all potholes, maybe. Got some like that on our own road this year.