CO2 or Pump?

On my first ever Brevet, a 300k, I had a flat 3 miles in.  As everyone else pulled away, I did everything I could to change my flat as quickly as possible.  This included the use of CO2.  Sure enough, in my haste, I didn’t properly seat the bead on my wheel and the tube popped.  I went to my second spare tube and ate up the rest of my CO2.

I finally got rolling.  Knowing I had no way to inflate a flat tire, I tried my hardest to make sure someone was behind me.  I slowly gained on the group and had very few problems until the sun was just about to go down.  We were at a control and someone loaned me their pump.

Another 15 miles down the road and about 35 miles from the finish, I flatted again.  It was now dark and I was at the tail end of the group.  They pulled away and I was forced to walk as I called my wife to come get me.  At the time, tears almost came to my eyes as I felt my PBP hopes were going down the drain.

A few minutes later, someone from the group rode up and offered to change my tire.  I explained I would have to patch it.  He offered to give me a tube and even change my flat for me.  It was a great introduction to the randonneuring camaraderie you hear about so often.

As we got back on the road, my tire once again came unseated and exploded.  My new riding partner, who I had never met before, once again changed my tire for me and refused any money I offered up.

The point of the story is I was horribly unprepared to ride a 300k.  I had crappy tires and a crappy means to remedy the problem.  The tire problem has been solved, but the one lesson I will always have is to have a reliable solution to fixing a flat.

To me this is always 2 spare tubes, a full patch kit (I always ensure the vulcanizing fluid is good to go) and a pump.  CO2 only gives so much umpf.  CO2 is also quicker and easier to inflate.  And once its gone, its gone.  I wouldn’t be caught dead on a self-supported ride with just CO2.

In other words I am going to carry a pump.  With the space and the weight of CO2, I have completely dropped it from my kit.  A pump takes a few more minutes, but with a low volume, high pressure (LVHP) pump, I can top off my tire to an adequate pressure.  This usually takes 2 CO2 cartridges.

I use a Lezyne Micro HPG pump.  It’s 1/3 of a lb and the ability to push against the ground without worrying about destroying your valve stem is awesome.  I can never go back to a frame pump.

Product-hpumps-hp-microflrhp-zoom1Don’t get me wrong, using solely CO2 has its place.  A self-supported ride isn’t it.  And if I am going to take a pump, I don’t want to lug around the CO2.

What do you carry – pump or CO2?


2 responses to “CO2 or Pump?

  1. For the longest time I had a frame pump but now I’ve got the tiny CO2 nozzle because it can fit in my back pocket easily, but I’m only riding 200k’s and I’m very particular about keeping new rubber on the wheels… After reading this, however, I’ll have to reconsider when riding up north – no support up there. Thanks for this one.

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