God of Sealant…

6C4E489C-F34E-414B-8196-BD2D2611305DYesterday I set off to go for my first Hyper Randonneur. For the non audax weirdos amongst you, that’s 4 x 600km or longer rides in one season. With PBP and another two 600’s done I just needed one more before the end of September. The best thing about a Hyper is that it’s not actually an official award. There’s no patch or badge, it’s just for fun. 

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14A4847C-ED1F-4A50-A6F2-2FF1B6A383E1The fun started at 6am on Saturday. By about 11am it had already become a bit unfun. I’d just made my first coffee stop. I exited the shop with my drink to discover sealant had sprayed from the rear tyre all up the inside of my mudflap and ‘guard. I pressed the tyre to feel the pressure, luckily it had hardly lost any. I necked my coffee and continued east. All was well until around 290k in. I could feel the tyre had gone down. It was around 5:20pm and I was just about to hit Whittlesey. I continued on in the hope to catch a bike shop open. As it turned out there was no chance of that, there was no bike shop in Whittlesey. But according to a local, there was ‘the bike man’ who repaired bikes from his home. I was only a mile away from the bike man, so I headed over. I reached his address and was greeted by the most adorable, barking and slavering gigantic German Shepherd. Thankfully, bike man appeared from another door and entered the garden. I asked him if I could borrow a track pump. He said of course. I blew up the tyre with no sound of leaks. Thanked bike man and got back on my route. 30k later and I could feel the tyre going deflating again. It was now clear something was up/down. Another 10k further on and it was like sitting on an eel in a deckchair. The sun had just sunk and I was now in the middle of nowhere. You might be thinking, why doesn’t he just put an inner tube in and spare us all this bollocks. Well, I didn’t have an inner tube. OK? Those which have used tubeless will know, if you haven’t got a spare 28 days to pick out all the flints and glass which a tubeless tyre doesn’t give a shit about, then all that happens is, 9 times out of 10, an inner tube will just puncture. Another reason for not carrying a tube was that I’d put quadruple the amount of sealant in the day before. But I’m now of the assumption the Muck-Off stuff I’ve been using is just pink water with kitten pubes masquerading as rubber flecks. Anyway, it didn’t really matter. I was fucked. Pointless trying to blow up the tyre, it’d only go down. I’d just made a village, it was about 8:30pm. It was pitch fucking black. I decided to knock on a door and see if I could get an inner tube (yeah, yeah. I know). First house, no answer. I went across the road, walked down a drive. There was a woman stood in her kitchen looking very spooked by the lanky, black clad alien in budgie smugglers wheeling a bike towards her house. I tried to gesture that I hadn’t come to kill her but that I had a problem with my bike. She came out and I explained my predicament. She didn’t have any tubes nor suggestions who might. This was a tiny village of only about 6 houses. As I thanked her and was about to turn on my heels she said, you could try my brother-in-law next door. So with not much hope but fuck all to lose I went next door. I rang the doorbell and immediately a bespectacled man in a checked shirt appeared. I asked him if he’d got an inner tube. He kind of laughed through in his response of, no, I haven’t got an inner tube. He asked me where I was heading and we had a brief chat about the route. I then started babbling and mentioned my tubeless set up and the lack of sealant. His next sentence felt like I’d just been spoken to by God. Each letter a crisp white dove atop a gold platter made by Fabergé delivered to my eardrums by 21 angels to the sound of a lost Tchaikovsky piece played out by the Miami Sound Machine. 

“I might have some sealant.” 

What.The.Fucking.Fuck. I thought I must have started hallucinating early, so I turned slightly to one side and punched myself in the thigh to see if this was all real. In immediate retrospect this was a pretty fucking stupid idea as I was wearing Rapha Cargo bib shorts with my phone in the outside pocket of aforementioned thigh. Still, my now skin cracked knuckles did indeed confirm that I wasn’t trippin’. 

We walked across his drive to what I thought was a large outhouse. But in fact was a huge barn, crammed to the rafters with all sorts of amazing shit. A huge oak workbench with over a hundred painted and ready to be painted lead soldiers. Old lawnmowers, bits of classic car, tins and pots and fuck-knows-what. He disappeared towards the back barn and after a couple of minutes returned with a bottle of sealant. It felt like a fucking miracle. Just 15 minutes ago I was contemplating having to walk in the hope of finding somewhere to sleep, with possibly sacking my ride and Hyper off altogether. As it turned out I don’t think I could have stopped at a better place on the whole fucking route. 

The big barn of everything also produced a tiny syringe so I was able to inject the heavy duty tractor sealant straight in. While I was doing that the God of Sealant went to the boot of his car and came back with a compressor. Fuck me. Is there anything this bloke hasn’t got? Sadly it was for a car and didn’t fit my valve. Which was a real twat as I’d finished injecting the sealant and had begun trying to inflate the tyre with my own pump, but it wasn’t having it. GoS then said, I’ve got a couple of air guns I use for painting and another compressor in the barn. So I kept my hose on my valve, he rigged one of the air guns to the compressor and held it to the hose. The tyre went straight up. Hard as a rock but with the sound of a leak. I span the wheel around quick and the magic tractor gunk sealed it instantly. I was back in the fucking game. 

I put on all the clothes I had with me and readied myself for the night. 

We said our goodbyes. I thanked him profusely for his time, generosity and good will. 

I asked my saviour for his address so I could post him something, whether I made it round or not. It turns out we were in Slow Longa. 

IMG_5689So yeah, that’s it really. 

Words and pictures – Mark Hudson

2 thoughts on “God of Sealant…

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