Thursday, 28 February 2008

Talk about good timing!

This bike skills course I'm doing is fantastic!

On Tuesday night we were learning how to change a tyre and fix a puncture. I went and bought myself two spare tubes on Monday, just in case they wanted to see what sort of repair kit we had. I have the tyre levers and the puncture repair kit, but I didn't have the recommended spare tubes. I also bought myself a whiz bang pump that lets you know how much air you have in your tyres. Not enough it seemed, when I got it home. I pumped my tyres up from the measly 20 psi to the recommended 80 psi - so much easier with my new pump.

I rode to the course venue after my PT session with Julia - I was in a little bit of a hurry so I took a short cut instead of travelling on the bike path. I rode on the road most of the way and on the footpath the rest. Near Antill Street I did venture out onto the grass to pass a lady who was walking quite slowly on the footpath. Not such a good idea it seems, but more on that later.

When I arrived we had the initial talk and then were split into two groups for the practical session. I spread my sheet on the ground, laid my bike down, and then joined the group gathered around the bike mechanic to see how to take off the rear wheel. We were doing that one because it's harder. We were shown how to do it - put the chain on the smallest sprocket at the back (I think it's a sprocket), undo the brake, undo some clip whose name I can't remember even after hearing it all night, and then drop the tyre out. This is all done with the bike upright. You then lay your bike back down, and take the tyre off.

We were shown how to do this, and it looked really easy. So easy in fact that I managed to take off the tape that covered the ends of the spokes as well. I wasn't supposed to do that. Anyway, it wasn't the end of the world. I was able to replace this safely. We were shown how to find a puncture, how to check our tube and tyre, and had a bit of a chat about various types of punctures (glass, thorns, etc). Being from Melbourne I imagined the thorns as enormous. I was soon to discover that they are pesky little things.

After letting down my tyre (how painful that was after pumping it up properly the day before) I got out my tyre levers, which are a weird shape that makes sense once you've seen them in action, and took off the tyre and tube (and the tape). I quickly put the tape back on. Then I put my tube and tyre back on the wheel, got it back on the bike, realised that my brakes weren't even, got the nice man to fix that up, cleaned the grease from my hands, and was happily wheeling my bike to lean it against the wall for a quick getaway, when my front tyre went down.

I was all set to check it out and fix the puncture, but I was talked into pumping it up first to see what happened. It stayed up. Then I discovered my back tyre was down. I was all set to pump it up too after what had just happened, but one of the instructors suggested that I look for the puncture. I did that, with help, and ended up fixing my first ever puncture instead of practising, like everyone else, on a scrap of tube. One of the bike mechanics then checked my tyre for me and found several thorns in it, which he kindly removed.

I got the bike reassembled, with a bit of help from a couple of the nice men who were there to assist us. I realised that my front tyre probably had thorns in it and I really wanted to check out my front tyre with all that assistance around, however it was still pumped up. All those kind men wanted to get home rather than look for a puncture they hoped I didn't have and so I headed off, hoping it would stay pumped up for me while I was riding home. When I did get home it was still pumped up, but I found a few thorns in it. I wasn't at all surprised to find it was flat this morning. I get to fix my second puncture now, while all the info is fresh in my brain. I also guess that I should have been a bit more patient with the slow lady, instead of heading off the path into the grass.

How lucky am I though? I haven't had a puncture with this bike, and when I did finally get one it was when I was surrounded by people who could help me. Not only that, I get an opportunity to practise straight away. If only I could change a tyre without getting dirty though!


MorseyRuns said...

I wish I had lessons like that- I just learnt by trial and error, and more errors and some more errors. What brand pump did you buy? I need one too but there are so many out there.

Andrew (AJH) said...

I bought a new pump recently too - is yours a stand up pump that you push up and down. Mine is - I love it. I have to pump my tyres up to 120-140 psi and this was really hard with the little portable pump.

Lee said...

You sound like you are really enjoying all aspects surrounding "the bike" :)

jojo said...

yep..definitely the right time to get a puncture..its very satisfying being able to change it yourself