I took the bike to Bike Source this morning. I wanted to find out why I had four flat tires in 2 days. For the two other “big rides” I’ve done (471 miles across Iowa in 2008, and 500+ mile across Ohio in 2009) I had a COMBINED total of ZERO flat tires. But on a short sub 300 mile jaunt I wind up having four of them?

I talked to the manager of Bike Source. Told him I replaced the tires and tubes at the beginning of each riding season. That his store — the Dublin location — was the one I normally took my bike to for its maintenance needs. This year, I replaced the tires, tubes, and rims.

A few weeks after I’d put on new rims and tires, I’d suffered two flats over the course of a weekend. On Monday after that weekened, I happened to be in Westerville. Bike Source has a Westerville location. It’s where I actually bought the bike itself four years ago. Explained to them that it was a new rear wheel assembly, so, what’s the deal with TWO flats on the same tire?

I use a brand of tire called Armadillo. It’s supposed to be made of much tougher stuff. It won’t stop a nail that’s directly hammered into the tire, but it will stop a good portion of any other road debris. I’ve used Armadillos for years and have always had excellent luck with them.

The Westerville store looked over the tire and said, “Dude, this tire is wore out. How much have you ridden it?” Just a few hundred miles, I answered, knowing those Armadillos are good for a couple of thousand miles. The Westerville store put a new tire on there for me.

That’s the tire that accompanied me to Lake Erie and back.

Before I left on the Lake Erie Journey, I’d had a rack installed on the bike. The rack load limit was 70 pounds. The tent, blanket, clothes, and saddlebags didn’t weigh anything close to 70 pounds.

But just because I didn’t exceed the weight limit of the rack, what if I exceeded the load limit for the tire itself?

As you can see from the photo above, the sidewalls had pretty much failed completely. A third Bike Source store, their Clintonville location, had installed the bike rack. They obviously had the bike to do the install. I then wondered, if having a rack on the back on that particular bike would exceed the weight limit of the tire, why wouldn’t they tell me that and suggest a different tire?

These were the things I told the Bike Source Dublin manager this morning. Told ’em I’m not upset at them — I just want to find out what the hell happened. Was it a defective tire? (Two defective tires in a row?) Was it the weight limit? Was it just spectacular bad luck?

The manager couldn’t give me a definitive answer. The typical, “It’s a combination of so many things,” explanation. He did offer that once he was unlucky enough to suffer four flats in a span of just ten miles.

In any case, they replaced the tire again (gratis) and did some adjustment work on the gears. Plus the rain had seriously “dried” out the chain and gear assembly, so they lubed that up for me, too. Also no charge.

Sure feels weird to ride it without those saddle bags and tent on it!