Walk Slowly Uphill When Facing Flat Tires

2023 > Zambia

zambia mtb repair

Swoosh! I fly down the hills outside of Lusaka, with a smile on my face and my hands on the breaks – but only lightly! I am finally really enjoying mountain biking in a country that’s not known for good single-track trails – or at least I haven’t found them yet.

I’m spoiled with Carolina North Forest in my Chapel Hill backyard. There, the trails twist, turn, and jump in ways that always feel new and challenging. Here in Lusaka, there are great trail treats – like a waterfall! – but overall, the rides feel pedestrian in comparison to North Carolina.

I Hate Acacia Thorns

Just as I started to have fun, just as I swooshed past villages and farms, just as I turned down a rutted trail, I heard the dreaded “Pssssst” sound of my tires deflating. I braked hard, flipped over my handlebars, and landed on dirt and rocks. Luckily, I was unhurt, but looking at my bicycle tires, they had multiple acacia thorns sticking out of them at odd angles.

I patched six holes in both tubes over the next hour, but still the tyres would not hold air. I had more holes than patches, and I gave up. Looking at my Strava map, I had a two hour walk in any direction to find a paved road and my way home. So there wasn’t anything to do but to do it. Off I went, walking hot and dusty trails I should’ve been flying along on my bike.

Hitchhiking Home

When I finally came to a quarry, I looked pitiful and hopeful to the trucks leaving it for destinations unknown. The second truck slowed, stopped, and welcomed me aboard. The driver and his two friends added my bike to their load, and myself to their cab, for the long slow drive back to Lusaka.

Five hours after I left my hotel, I was back home, with my double flats. That’s when I found my backup tubes were Schrader valves, not Presta, and would not fit in my rims. Now I’m double flat, hoping to find 29 inch self-sealing Presta tubes, or tubeless supplies before next weekend’s ride in Forest 27.