Mitigated success

Bicycle wheel and tubeless tire with bottle of sealant, valve tool and tire levers

Stormy weather

We had strong winds, lighting and even tornadoes last night. (None of the latter right around here, but what seemed like continual alerts on the television starting about dinnertime and continuing into the evening.) This morning dawned calmer, but with some freaky weather still in the forecast.

With questionable weather in the offing and sunny skies promised for tomorrow, I decided to continue with bike maintenance today, including some that I’ve been putting off for a while.

This is the mitigated part

I’ve been riding Kuroko with mismatched tires since I tried to fix a leaky valve stem in early April and then couldn’t get the tire to reseat. After a number of tries I just swapped out my spare front wheel, which already had a sealed tire. That’s been going well, but I want to get back on my slicks for everyday riding. I tried yesterday a couple of more times to get the tire seated, to no avail. So today I cut my losses — I put an inner tube in the tire, inflated it, and then swapped it back in place of the spare. Matchy-matchy.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll try again to remove the inner tube and see if I can get the tire to seal without it. I’ve had luck in the past doing this — using an inner tube for a while on a tire that won’t seat — and I know other bikers who say the same thing.

On to the success!

One task that’s been on the back burner for more than a month now is to remove the loose nipple that I left rattling around inside the rear rim when I rebuilt the wheel. I didn’t remember the nipple was in there until I had the tire mounted and filled with sealant, and since then I’ve been putting off dealing with the mess of removing the tire and cleaning up the spilled sealant so I could (I hoped!) rattle the loose nipple out through the valve hole. (I’m also reluctant to unseat any tubeless tire that’s sealed well.)

It didn’t take long to get the tire off and clean up the sealant. After wiping the rim clean I sat down with it and started shaking it, hoping to rattle the nipple out. After a couple of minutes of trying, I cleaned up some ragged edges of rim tape around the valve hole. I shook and rattled some more, with no luck. I tried putting a hex key in the valve hole to snag the nipple as it went rattling past. I tried a very small hex key with some tape wrapped around it, sticky side out. Same result.

Sealant-coated spoke nipple on ground with detail of bicycle wheel in background
The culprit

Finally, as I was trying to clear another edge of rim tape from the valve hole, I pulled off a larger section of tape than I’d planned. I shrugged and continued pulling off the tape until I had the rim completely clean. Then I picked up the wheel again, and almost the moment I began shaking it, the nipple fell out onto the floor of the Workshop in the Sky.

Excited by this success, I grabbed a paper towel and used it to remove the remaining latex residue around the rim. Then I got out the truing stand to hold the wheel while I taped it up again.

Photo montage of bicycle wheel in truing stand, detail of valve in rim
Tape on, valve in

Luck was with me today as I had just enough rim tape to get the job done. (I have another roll in a different color, just in case.)

Tape roll at end of the tape, with scissors
End of the roll

With the rim freshly cleaned and taped, and the valve in place, it was time for the moment of truth: would the tire seat up again? I charged up the reservoir on the tire pump, removed the valve core and attached the pump head. There was a prolonged whoosh, and then the tire bead edged up onto the rim. I was about to make sure it had seated all the way around when the tire emitted a series of loud pops, confirming that it had sealed fully.

No fuss, no soapy water — just a seated tire.

Tire pump with gauge attached to bicycle wheel
First try

As always, at that point I rushed to get the latex sealant into the tire through the valve, install the valve core, and then inflate the tire a final time. As I swirled the latex around inside the inflated tire, I initially heard just a small leak, but this was sealed up in a moment.

Bicycle wheel and tubeless tire with bottle of sealant, valve tool and tire levers

Prepped and ready

Now that my two spare wheels are ready to roll (and I’ve got new brake discs waiting for them both), I can proceed with the plans I have for them. Those plans depend on whether Kuroko’s rear drop-out continues to make trouble. Amusingly, while I was looking up posts related to this one, I came across a photo I’d taken after my return from Shimanami Kaido, and it clearly shows that the bolts are loose.

Photo montage showing bicycle derailleur before and after cleaning
I didn’t notice this at the time

In the meantime, Kuroko is ready for tomorrow’s sunshine, with nicely matched tires full of air.

Bicycle leaning against corner of balcony
Ready to Rock ‘n’ Roll

Finally, as I was cleaning up after today’s project, a squall rose up and confirmed my decision not to ride today.

Cityscape in a rain squall
Decision justified

New tag: Mechanical

I’ve come up with a new tag for posts that will help visitors to this site decide if they want to take up this hobby before they’ve invested a lot of time and money: Mechanical.

Beating the heat on the Arakawa

Kawaguchi, where the Arakawa meets Tokyo Bay

The Halfakid was out all night with his karate sensei, so I headed off solo this morning. My own energy was at an ebb and I knew it would be hot today, so I chose the Arakawa – Disney route: flat and not too long.

From the start, I knew Kuroko wasn’t happy. There was a bit of squealing coming from the rear brake, and the rear derailleur was playing up. I was even hearing some noise from the crankset, and was worried about a return of the bottom bracket issue that I thought I’d fixed. But I soon found there was no crankset noise when I was on the larger chainring, so I knew it must be something else.

Arrival at the Arakawa
Arrival at the Arakawa

Once on the cycle path of the Arakawa, I got fed up with the brake noise. I pulled off the path in the shade of a bridge and leaned Kuroko up against a pier. I was in the process of adjusting the rear disc caliper when I realized the rear wheel was loose. That explained everything! When I tightened it up and gave it a spin, the brake wasn’t squealing. I figured that would sort out the derailleur issue as well, and that proved to be correct.

This is the second time this has happened, and when I stopped later to lunch on Nana’s world-famous onigiri I searched for a solution. This Reddit thread came up. It sounds reasonable and I’ll give it try.

Meanwhile, the heat was getting to be a bit much. I found myself stopping more than usual when a shaded spot appeared — usually under a bridge.

In the shade of an overpass
In the shade of an overpass

Not the only one trying to get out of the heat
Not the only one trying to get out of the heat

After each break I felt refreshed (although the water in my bottles was already warm), and soon I found myself nearing Kawaguchi (the mouth of the river). In the last 5km towards Kawaguchi the wind turned around was coming from the front, so I lowered my gear and kept at it.

I thought at this point about skipping the Disney visit and turning for home, but I realized I wanted a place in the shade to eat the onigiri, and those were all on the Disney side. So I doubled back, crossed the river and made my way through the park, onto another path and across a final bridge to reach the Disney entrance.

Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo Disney Resort

When I got back to the park with some fresh water and Pokari, the picnic benches in the shade were taken. So instead I found a shaded spot that was strewn with fern needles and sat down there to eat onigiri (and a Snicker’s bar). I saw some sort of park officer on a bike and wondered if he would tell me to move, but he left me alone.

A spot in the shade
A spot in the shade

On the return trip I could feel the sun beating down. I’m pretty sure I’ll have a sunburn to show off at the office tomorrow despite my efforts to cover up and my use of sunscreen.


The police presence really picked up in Otemachi and around the Imperial Palace. Hmm … there must be something important going on. I made sure to obey the traffic laws to avoid a recurrence of the scolding I got last weekend.


There’s still a lot of construction going on around Budokan, but I was able to find a park bench in the shade near Chidorigafuchi to finish off the last onigiri and drain the remaining water from my bottles. I messaged Nana that I would be home soon and set off for the final stretch.

Arakawa - Disneyland in the heat
Arakawa – Disneyland in the heat

I was surprised to find on my arrival home that the GPS reported I’d clocked up several personal bests along the route. I hadn’t been pushing too hard, and I’d been taking lots of breaks. I also recall that on my last blast down the Arakawa I’d had the help of a strong tailwind. But I guess the GPS doesn’t lie …

The GPS also reported that the temperature varied between 27 and 38! I think the official high today was 31, not the 39 registered in Hokkaido, so I think the unit was picking up the reflection of the sun off the pavement.

Here’s Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman

A look at the forecasts today opened my eyes a bit more than I’d hoped: the highs in France (Days 2 & 3 of the ride) are about 5 degrees lower than I’d expected from the long-range forecasts in February. OK, so make that two T-shirts under the (not actually) waterproof windbreaker.

Pretty much finished packing now. A separate vinyl bag for each day on the road: Two T-shirts, underwear and socks. It will be the same shorts and windbreaker throughout (as well as gloves, helmet, bandana).

Kind of optimistic now to think I’ll need sunscreen, but the temps are more of a worry for me than that. Glad to see the borrowed bike has full fenders.


From historical trends, it looks like temperatures will be in the low to mid teens, but could reach into the 20s as well. Not a huge chance of rain overall, but I believe Fearless Leader Joe said it rained the whole tour last year.

In other words, we have to be prepared for pretty much anything.