A few weeks ago, I was descending a long, fairly steep trail at Deem hills and flatted without hitting anything. When I pulled the tube, I found that the tube had separated right at the stem. I tried cutting a hole in a patch and sliding it over the stem in holes that it would seal up and hold everything in place. I held everything except air in place. Since I didn't have a spare tube, I shouldered the bike and walked back to the truck, about a 2 mile hike.
Back home, I blamed the problem on a faulty tube and replaced it. All seemed ok until last weekend. While descending the same hill I flatted on previously, I experienced the same thing. The new tube separated right at the stem. This time I had a spare and was able to continue the ride. Back home, I started puzzling this one and decided that the tube and tire must have been slipping around the rim. Never had evidence of that problem before in aout 55 years of cycling, so in typical troubleshooting procedure, I settled in on blaming the only thing I had changed before the problem started - the rims, which may have been slightly smaller in diameter than normal (I'll have to measure them and see if that's true), or maybe the painted aluminum surface was too slippery. Either way, the result sucked and I didn't want to fight it.
On Monday morning I ordered two new wheels from BlueSkyCycling.com. If you haven't figured it out yet, Old Fat & Slow is a cheapskate. My bike is 15 years old and still in service. In its life, I replaced the rims once, and the hubs were still the originals, until I bought the Vueltes. One great thing about classic bikes (read: old and obsolete) is the availability of obsolete parts that no one else wants. BlueSkyCycling.com had the perfect wheels at really good prices. So ordered a front wheel with Mavic 221 rim and Shimano LX hub, and a rear wheel with a Mavic 117 rim and Shimano XT hub. The cool part is, I ordered on Monday and received shipment on Thursday. I also ordered a Butt Holder (saddle) by WTB.
Yesterday I took off work a little to put it all together and get out for a ride with the buddies. The only thing I found wrong was the rear wheel was out of true by about 1 mm. That took a few tweaks with a spoke wrench and I was good to go.
On the trail, it was like riding a different bike. Over the years, my old wheelset must have gotten somewhat flexible. The Vuelta Zerolite wheelset didn't seem much different than the old wheels because they must be pretty flexible with only 24 spokes. The new wheels are much stiffer and the ride is dramatically different. The one thing that actually took some getting used to was the difference in steering. The stiffness of the wheels made steering response much tighter, with the result that I started out cutting to the inside of some twists and turns in the trail, and almost bounced off a large boulder that would have left a mark. After a few minutes, I was re-calibrated and it was all good.
The new butt holder, a WTB Pure V Race FR (don't know what that all means) was similar to my old one, but just enough different that its going to take some getting used to. It will probably be ok and just needs some breaking in. May be a few rides before I'm willing to spend more than a couple hours with my fat butt being held by that one.
The moral of this story is, don't buy the cheapest stuff you can get. Shop around a bit and find better components that can still be a bargain. And, take a look at BlueSkyCycling.com since they seem like a good business.