Confessions of a CO2 junkie

16 05 2010

It’s been a frustrating week.

The weather has been great, sunny and warm, perfect for riding. But last week’s windy ride in the country put both Katie and I under the weather by Wednesday.

Now there’s one school of thought out there that says exercise is good while battling a cold; ride on regardless. But with our trip to New York City imminent, I couldn’t afford to do anything that might stretch this cold out. There’s no way we want to be the hacking, sick people on the plane that everyone else hates

So I bailed on a trail ride on Wednesday, and opted not to ride on a beautiful Friday, which absolutely killed me, as that’s usually my “big ride” day.

I tried to soothe my guilt by heading to MEC to stock up on some bike supplies, chain cleaner, Tri-Flow, a couple of spare tubes and a box of CO2 cartridges.

The latter have become my crack cocaine of cycling.

When I first took the plunge into CO2, I vowed I’d only pack the little steel tubes for emergencies while out on the road; I’d tried a few different mini-pumps over the years and they were always an exercise in frustration. Or just an exercise. At home, I”ve got a trusty Silca floor pump that has served me well for years.

But one day I was in a hurry, so I thought I’d just top up my tires with a quick blast from one of my CO2 cartridges; my tires got rock hard in an instant and I went on to have a beautiful, quick ride. No way I could ever get my tires that hard with a pump.

I was hooked; I was a CO2 junkie!

My stash...

Of course, as any cyclist knows, the CO2 high doesn’t last long, something about the molecular composition of carbon dioxide allows it to bleed slowly through the rubber of the innertube; a tire blasted to 110 psi hardness with CO2 will be soft a few days later and need another top-up inflation. I try to do that with my floor pump, I really do. But try as I might, I just can’t get the same kind of psi rush I achieve with a short, sharp blast from an inflator.

Yes, I know it’s lazy. Yes, I know it’s expensive: $1.50 a cartridge vs free with a floor pump. Yes I know it’s wasteful. Yes I know carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. But I’m hooked dammit.

I need a 12-step program…

Off the bike for a few days, as we’re off to New York City, including tickets to Letterman on Wednesday!



One response

16 05 2010
Gerry Taylor

Great article singing the praises of CO2 cartridges. I know them from the kitchen. They are great for making sauces, whipped cream….

Heads Up – They will not let them on flights. I was taking a gift of this highly efficient applicance w/ CO2 charges to Kenya. My gift now sits there unused because they took the cartridges away.

I agree, they are great.

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