Attention California: Expect cold rain Tuesday afternoon, so don’t forget your rain jacket before leaving the house in the morning.
I was just riding along this morning when I saw a woman in a yellow jacket walking her late 1980s Diamondback trail bike. She had her first ever flat tire five miles away from home and happily accepted my offer to help.
Grace and I talked as I pulled the thorns from her tire and patched her tube. After she retired, she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. The Peace Corps gives each worker a bicycle, a helmet, a patch kit and an instruction manual. In Bangkok, everybody rides tuk-tuks and public transportation, but in the countryside many Peace Corps workers get around by bicycle.
After eight months in country, Grace was riding her bike in a rural village when a pack of feral dogs gave chase. She crashed badly after hitting a chunk of concrete. She returned to the USA to recuperate from the neck injury she received in this crash, and is happy she’s still able to ride a bicycle up and down the Guadalupe River Trail.
It turns out Grace is friends with Debbie Caminiti, who owns Bel Bacio Caffè in San Jose’s Little Italy. After I completed the tube repair, Grace insisted on putting my name on the sospeso board at Bel Bacio, although I urged her instead to pay it forward (as if her service in the Peace Corps isn’t payment enough).
This stop was a good test for the RoadAir compact pump, which has been heavily promoted on Amazon recently. The seller makes bold claims about this pump, and hyperbolic language in advertising always triggers my bologna reflex. I’ve had bad experience with junk products this year that I’ve declined to post about, but the online vendor was very insistent in sending me a pump to evaluate.
Compact pumps under about $30 have always disappointed me, but this one seems worth having. The shaft and pump handle appear to be constructed of machined aluminium and feels solid. A rubber hose pulled from the end of the pump means you don’t risk breaking the valve stem as you pump, and a handy storage compartment stores a Presta adapater and ball needle. The pump masses 155 grams; compare against 190 grams from the Topeak Road Morph and 90 grams from the Lezyne Pressure Drive.
This pump did the job for my trailside repair, but pump volume seems on the low side. It took 70 strokes to inflate the 26×1.5 tire on Grace’s bike to what felt like a good pressure. I had tested on my 700×28 road tire earlier, 120 strokes took me to 90 PSI.
Other compact pumps under $30 have failed me completely, so it’s nice to see a $25 pump that doesn’t fall apart completely after a handful of uses. I think the Topeak Road Morph is superior for about 50% more money, but among bargain pumps this RoadAir pump does the job.