Ride a bike long enough and you’ll have one. Ride a bike across the US and you will probably have several. No one enjoys them but most bikers learn how to fix them. Flat tires are just one of the small issues you face as a bike rider. But why have a flat tire contest, and why the long name? “The Tom Wisnousky Memorial Flat Tire Derby” deserves an explanation.
Tom Wisnousky was a fellow Tall Dog Bike Club member that all six of us knew well from RAGBRAI and many club rides. In 2001 he, Dwayne Barton (Bart), and I embarked on “Tall Dogs Across America” which took us across the northern tier of states from Anacortes, Wa. to Bar Harbor, Me. Not many days into that trip after Tom had several flats, we decided that if this was a “flat tire derby” Tom would surely win. So a careful count was kept of all our flat tires. For the entire crossing Bart had 3 flats although he protested that the one he had in the bike trailer shouldn’t count. (Needless to say on a 2 to 1 vote his protest was denied!) I had 5 flats and Tom in stunning fashion managed to have 16 to handily win the flat tire derby. I must say that Tom wore the Flat Tire Derby crown as a badge of honor! Although Tom has since passed on to ride with his son Dan under constant sunshine and tail winds, we thought it only fitting to honor him this way.
This post also serves to explain the derby to a couple of our bikers this trip. Allen has added tire liners to his recumbent tires to avoid flats and Roger has put Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on his recumbent that would give some motorcycle tires a run for their money in terms of thickness and weight. Roger hopes to “win the derby” this way but I think he failed to understand what winning entails. As for me, this is one contest I would love to come in last on. –Bob
PS – The contest officially began today, as Brian took a commanding lead with 3 flats.