Updated: Sep 10, 2022
Flat tyres ... or getting a flat is an absolute nightmare and could be a day ender for a race, session or just a casual ride. So what should you do if you get a flat in these situations? I've been caught out twice in the past week... so this is a bit of insight into what I did too!
There are a couple of options here.
In my most recent race, i did manage to get a puncture on the last lap of the bike section... I had 1km to go and the tyre went completely flat after going down a pot hole. Nightmare. I had to make a quick decision as a corner was quickly approaching. Obviously going around a corner at a high speed would have certainly ended in disaster.
Unfortunately this was a draft legal sprint race... not only that... the fastest draft legal sprint race... ever...? So I was almost certainly out of the race as even a loss of 10 seconds means you'll probably loose 15 places. I managed to slow before the fast corner and get onto the long straight. I quickly remembered that Georgia Taylor Brown managed to ride the last few 100m in the olympics on a flat, so I went for it and rode the rim for the next km... luckily there was only one U-Turn to tackle and the rest was straight and flat. I lost 1 minute to the front group that I was in. Game over. I completed the run but was almost last by this point.
The other alternative in a draft legal race could be a wheel station where you can replace the wheel.. but again, you have to get there on a flat tyre... Maybe I could look into tub's in the future.
In long distance racing it's slightly different. I think it's definitely worth having a puncture repair kit ready and waiting... as the distance and time you spend on the bike means that the percentage of time lost changing or fixing a flat tyre doesn't put you completely out of the race. See Alistair B in Kona 2019.
Training ride puncture
Now you know they say when you're waiting for a bus there aren't any for what seems like days and then they all come at once? This happened with me and getting flats.
When getting back from Turkey, I managed to get two flats on my first training ride back. There are two take aways from this experience...
Have a good friend who has spares to help you out and head home to replace your ruined tyre.
Have your own spares and puncture repair kit!
We used Co2 gas canisters to quickly replace and fill my innertube which was the quickest most efficient way of sorting it out... but unfortunately that wasn't the main issue... the main issue was that the tyre had a slit in it... and fortunately Ollie was only 5 mins from his house, so managed to nip back and get a spare tyre to replace my old weary one.
There are ways of fixing this... and a comment on my youtube video had a good suggestion. If you have an old empty gel wrapper or note in your pocked (or anything of that nature) you can put it inside the tyre before pumping up the innertube to stop it going through the tyre and getting damaged. A good hack.
Sometimes you can't avoid getting a flat tyre... but make sure you've got your tyres pumped up to avoid pinch flat's, your tyres aren't too old and worn that things can easily penetrate them, and that you have a good saddle bag with all the necessary kit to fix one if you get one!
Those are my take aways from the past week. Hope this helps!