I put a new tire on the bike right before the rally. As I rolled into the rally, I realized that it was losing a a few or more PSI over a number of hours. This wasn't the change in reading from changes in elevation (though that was there too). I looked and looked but couldn't find the leak. But since it was fairly slow leak I thought I'd just keep an eye on it.
At the end of the rally, I topped it off and headed west.
Heading up over beartooth, I started to pass a car on steep uphill hair pin - in a passing lane. The front tire tried to wash out in rapid succession. I backed it off, stifled a scream, and pulled over. The tire was incredibly hot and almost sticky to the touch. Pressure was down to only 25 psi or so, but I had -ahem- been pushing it a bit (a questionable choice on a slightly leaky tire, I know).
I used a CO2 cartridge to add a little and waited for the tire to cool. The cartridge didn't add much, but I felt I could gingerly get off the mountain. As you might guess, a bad front tire on one of the greatest roads with dangerous drop offs left me less than happy.
After coming over the pass at speeds so low I wouldn't have believed a motorcycle could do it (if it weren't for passing some of y'all on the way to the rally ), I arrived in Red Lodge. I topped off the tire and took a break. An hour later, the tire still read the same. Off to the hotel in Columbus I went.
The next morning I checked the pressure and headed out on the interstate. A 100 miles later, I pulled over and checked it again. It hadn't budged despite barely changing elevation and the tire now being warm. I needed to top off.
The conaco station's little pump was out so they pointed me to the truck stop nearby. These places often have BIG compressors suitable for filling enormous truck tires. You have to be very careful with them.
I put the hose on for a short second and checked the pressure. It looked as though it wasn't putting out a lot of air too quickly. I tested it one more time. Again, it didn't seem to be putting out too much air. So I put it on for a three count and didn't make it to three.
The tire inflated so fast that the name "Maxxis" painted into the side of the tire split. I put the pressure gauge on. It only reads up to 50 psi. The little plastic stick shot out like a rocket, pegged. I deflated the tire and tried again. It pegged again, albeit slower. Finally, eyes wide, I got it down to the right pressure.
Now what to do? Had I irrecoverably damaged the tire? I didn't know, but I thought I probably had. It was Monday, in Montana. Where was I going to find a new tire? Dammit.
I headed cautiously out on the highway and modest speeds. A hundred miles later, I checked the tire. It was like a joke - now it seemed to be holding air just fine. A hundred miles later I checked again. Again, it was holding air.
Another 800 miles after I made my mistake, I was home, angry at myself but happy to be ok.
I just ordered a new tire. This one may in fact be fine, but a $100 or so for some piece of mind is nothing.
Note to self: don't over inflate your tires.