Updated: May 25, 2019
Tire tubes can be a pain in the butt! I don't think I mentioned this, but I took what appeared to be the last affordable room in Gettysburg for my first 2 nights. It wasn't available the third night, so when I extended my stay another day I had to move one door down to the next room. Don't ask why. Anyway, it was then I found out I had a flat tire on the rear. You may remember that this is my first flat since Florida, so I feel lucky. I fixed that flat that day and pumped it up as well as I could with my frame pump. Now my frame pump is not full sized and to pump up a tire I've found that I get about 10 lbs of pressure for every 100 pumps of my pump! My tires should be inflated to 80 lbs. You do the math. And of course, when you get beyond 50-60 lbs of pressure that pumping gets hard! To get to the point, I rode under inflated to Harrisburg, PA. Fortunately, it was mostly downhill, and I made it very quickly and the tire actually did pretty well.
Because I didn't have a tire gauge to see what I was running on, I made it to a bike shop in Harrisburg while I was running around trying to find breweries - that's another story. When I checked my pressure I was only at 40 psi. So I pulled out the pump, screwed it on my presta valve and pumped it up to about 70. And when I unscrewed the pump - the presta valve came out of the stem with it! 700 pumps of air dropped out in about 3 seconds! I put the valve back into the stem, pumped it up again and the valve came out again! Choice words were heard by bystanders at this point. So I got my leatherman, screwed on the valve again and pumped it up AGAIN! This time it held. And in the morning, it seemed to be OK still, so I jumped on the bike for a beautiful ride to Schuylkill Havens on a beautifully cool day.
10 miles from the finish, I could feel the tire go flat. So, I pumped it up an additional 20 lbs (do the math) and continued on my way, feeling the tire go flatter and flatter as I went. I limped into the Stone House B&B in Schuylkill Havens (try spelling Schuylkill 100 times!) on a flat rear tire thinking about how am I going go get this fixed.
Well, the owner of the B&B mentioned a guy in town who was just starting up a mobile bicycle repair business as we greeted each other - without knowing I had a problem. And I called him, changed out my tube and had him pump me up with a proper pump so I can continue on my way today! I hope it holds. I have a new tube. When I put the old tube under water I could find no leaks. And he said he routinely takes the valve out of presta stems and puts them back in. It was still holding the air I blew into it today, so I hope I'm OK. I'm keeping the tube. The bike is in the garage and I haven't been able to check the pressure in the tire yet. Let's hope it's good to go.
Going to Allentown, PA today. About 41 miles. I'll be crossing the AT again and the bike repair guy told me about a place that does hair cuts for through hikers about 10 miles in. I may stop for a beard trim!