After I hit some miscellaneous piece of road shrapnel in the bike lane three days ago, I'd been noticing a drop in rear tire pressure following every couple of rides around town. So the next day, Sunday, I took out the damaged tube and did the usual tire and tube check. For the life of me, I couldn't find the hole. I inflated the tube...no detectable leak. I deflated it and *really* inflated it a second time. Again, nada. It wasn't a faulty stem -- I'd know, I've had those, too -- and I couldn't see or hear an air leak anywhere. So what was I supposed to do, toss an inexplicably leaky tube? No. (This is as much due to stubbornness as frugality or eco-friendliness, mind you.) Maybe it was all in my head. I decided I would reinflate it and just keep an eye on things, so I put that same tube back in... which was more challenging than usual since I seem, owing to recent disuse, to have misplaced my single remaining tire iron. Flat-head screwdrivers aren't as apt a substitute as you might think.
Everything seemed fine -- with the noticeable exception of my gut, which kept telling me the ghost leak would manifest itself again. Sure enough, I came home from my inaugural Master Gardening class tonight to find Ollie markedly deflated. Gah! Alright, that's it: I pulled out the tube (now a third time), inflated it, and... Oh, heck, no luck. I finally caved and did the tried and true water test in my bathroom sink. Aha! There it was, clear as day! How did I not see or hear that giant, fingernail-shaped gash in the tube before it was submerged?? Guess I'm losing my touch.
Let the record show that once the hole was found, I checked the tire for lingering pointy things (there were none) and installed a new tube in under 10 minutes. Yes, sans tire iron. Maybe I'm not losing my touch after all....though I do plan to pick up a couple of tire irons and some of that super degreaser for my hands next time I'm near a bike shop.