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Friday, 13 January 2012

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PUNCTURES

Went to the shed yesterday morning to pick up my bike, ready for my commute to work. And there it was in all its glory...the unexpected, sneaky and cynical morning puncture.
I am a cyclist therefore I am a puncture repair expert. I have to be.
I have been riding now for nearly seven years in the streets of London, the Surrey hills, Italian and French Alps. When I started I knew nothing about bike repairs, puncture fixing. I was given a 70s Bianchi by my uncle and it had tubs. The first time I puctured luckily it was near home, so I pushed it along the pavement all the way to my local shop. I was charged £20 and it had to be done overnight as the glue needed to set. At the second puncture I decided not to risk it anymore so I changed the wheels with clinchers I had in the shed and off I went. Inevitably I did puncture and like for anything else, took it to the shop but they asked for £10 to repair, and could I go the next day as they were busy!

That was it. I had to learn. I did. Since then I have repaired my punctures and built 4 bikes from scratch to save on the expenses while enjoying the mechanics of the bike at the same time.
But little I knew then what a feature punctures would remain in my years of cycling. Some years I had 18 of them, some years 4. I've tried all types of tyres, prevention kits, inflation levels.
There are various kinds of punctures, all pretty annoying.
There are punctures that sound like gunshots, they are comprehensive and deflate in a nanosecond. The shock is so startling that you change the innertube quickly, keeping the adrenaline going and once the repair is done off you go maybe even faster than before. They're usually caused by a pinch or pretty sharp glass or flint.
Then there are the slow ones, you know they're there, you can feel it but not see it yet. Then you stop and press your fingers on the tyre and you know it should feel harder than that. Try to ignore it but then the tyre starts going down too much until you finally have to stop and deal with it. By then you've slowed down and deflated yourself as well. There's no recovery from that, your ride won't be the same.
The worst are the ones under the rain. Not only you're getting wet and cold, but you don't want to get water inside the tyre while repairing the puncture. Everything is mucky and slippery. Then a car sees your predicament by the roadside and duly speeds up, comes as close as possible to the curb and hit that massive puddle right in front of you. So together with the puncture you get a beautiful free wash with the best muck the road can offer. Well the laughs!
The ones we can put up with are the slow punctures that happen just before you get home on a Friday night, with enough air still in to get you back. You roll into the shed, in the full knowledge that that weekend you will be using the other bike, the full specced one, the bike numero uno, and you can deal with the puncture any time before the Monday when you'll need it again to ride to work.
Then of course that puncture becomes the morning punture on the Monday...how did I forget to repair it?

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