I have presta valves on my bicycle tires. This morning went to put some air in the rear. When I removed the adapter, it took the core of the valve stem out with it. The little brass stem went rocketing across the garage and hit the back wall, scary projectile. Heard it, couldn’t see it. Tire deflated in two seconds flat, no pun intended. Walked to work. Over lunch discovered that the one bike shop within walking distance of UC Berkeley has closed down.

I never thought there were corners in time
‘Till I was told to stand in one.
— Grace Slick

9 Replies to “Hyperdrive”

  1. So what kind of bike do you own? I guess I’m kinda interested ’cause I’m currently looking for a new mountain bike.

  2. I’ve got prestas too… and they seem so flimsy. I always feel like I’m going to break ’em when I’m pushing that adapter over top.

  3. A college town with no bike shops? A college town in hippy dippy CALIFORNIA with no bike shops? Good grief, what is the world coming to!

    State College, Pennsylvania (home of Penn State) had FOUR bike shops when I was there in the mid 90’s.

  4. The bike is a Gary Fisher… about six years old. Bought it from my editor on the BeOS Bible several years ago. Great rust color, no longer made. Kind of heavy though. I’d kind of prefer a road bike.

    Prestas don’t seem flimsy at all to me – they’re metal rather than plastic, never seen one break. In this case I just unscrewed the inner stem too far.

    Ted, there are lots of bike shops in Berkeley, but they’ve somehow all ended up located outside walking distance from UCB. I smell a biz opp.

  5. Fourteen years ago I went on a cycling tour around England’s Peak District (I still ride the same MTB now that I had then) – I stopped of in the last major town on the route to pick up a spare inner tube, the only bike shop was a toyshop/bikeshop – not very confidence inspiring. I specifically remember asking them for Schrader valves – emphasizing the SCHRADER.

    So, fifty miles further down the road, I’m cycling down a 1-in-4 hill, around a harepin bend, with three cars coming the other direction (about the only other traffic I’d encountered all day) when BANG – my front tyre has the biggest blowout I’ve ever experienced, I go sliding across the road and luckily all three cars manage to come to a sharp stop and avoid running me over.

    It’s at this point that I pull the tube out of its pack and realise that the no-brains shop assistant has given me one with a Presa valve – gaaar! I spend the next hour-and-a-half calling on all the infrequently-scattered farmhouses in the area trying to find somebody who owns a presta adapter, before I finally manage to flag down a phalanx of racing cyclists who save the day. I camp in the nearby woods, exhausted, before having to cycle another fifteen miles the next day to find a bike shop, all the while watching the huge tumour of inner-tube bulging through the one-inch hole in my tyre’s sidewall, praying that it holds out the journey (it did).

    The people in the bike shop said it was because I was carrying too much luggage (full front panniers, full back panniers, tent on the back rack – they said they’d seen people go off on round-the-world trips with less luggage. Well, I couldn’t help it, I’d had to go to a weekend conference at the beginning of my trek, and still had all my books and paperwork onboard).

    I got my bike serviced a couple of weeks ago, and asked them to put new slime inners in both wheels – bastards replaced my nice Schraders with Prestas, grrr! Yeah, I’m not a big fan of Prestas, I always somehow manage to bend that little spindly bit in the middle, gimme nice rugged Schraders any day.

  6. What about Missing Link on Shattuck right above University? That’s within walking distance, in my view (though admittedly a hike from the J-School). Don’t tell me they’ve closed.

  7. Michael, I’m embarassed – you’re totally right. I seldom go north of University Ave., and had forgotten about it. Oddly, I asked about five people, shopkeepers, etc if they knew whether a bike shop was in walking distance, and no one mentioned the Missing Link. Sigh.

    Anyway, thanks for the kick in the shins there.

  8. Dan, that’s an amazing story (funny too, but I’ll try and keep the schadenfreude out of this .. or should I say “Schraderfreude?”).

    Question: Don’t prestas require a presta-sized hole in the rim? How could the shop just replace one for the other so absently? The hole is the wrong size!

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