Good timing for a tack in my tyre
Some weeks before this bike experiment was conceived, I registered for a bicycle maintenance workshop. The Gold Coast City Council has a very active program of community workshops and classes, and amongst them is a series devoted to bike-riding. They’re part of the Council’s campaign to promote active travel, encouraging people with the clever prompt to ‘change the way you move’. The outline of the workshop read well, it was nearby and it was free!
I’ve ridden a bike for many years but have never felt very confident about bike maintenance. I know some of the basics about looking after my bike but I’ve always relied on taking it to a bike shop for a regular service. And for flat tyres, well I’ve relied on other people being around to help me change it or pick me up and drive my bike and me home. However, this year I decided I wanted to be more self-sufficient, at least more capable with those skills. Plus I’ve owned my current bike for over two years and never had a puncture. The odds were, one was getting closer.
So last Wednesday, a day scattered with showers that were threatening to wash out the workshop, I gathered with eight other recreational bike-riders, two expert cyclists who were our workshop instructors and one would-be bike-rider who has been a bit unsure about whether bike-riding is for her or not. Oh and there were also two young girls on school holidays who arrived with a tiny white bike wearing beads on its spokes that clicked and clacked as they wheeled it along.
This is what I enjoyed and valued most about this workshop – it was very practical.
The rain held off and for ninety minutes we all stood with our bikes under the shade of a cotton tree learning Better Bike Maintenance. Our instructors Jen Alcorn and Adam started with fitting our helmets properly. Everyone’s helmet was checked and individual adjustments made to ensure each helmet was a firm snug fit. I appreciated this because mine was in fact too loose and, until then, I hadn’t realised. Next we learnt about checking for the right tyre inflation, how to know what inflation is right for your bike (not all tyres are the same) and then everyone applied that knowledge by pumping their tyres with the pumps Jen had brought along.
This is what I enjoyed and valued most about this workshop – it was very practical. I’ve read about bike maintenance and tried it myself but to be guided to apply it to your own bike and learn the intricacies of your own bike with the support of people with expert knowledge was really valuable.
Bikes come in many shapes and sizes. The basics are the same but each has specific features. Those differences might be due to the type of bike – road bike, hybrid, cross-trail, touring bike, all of which were present at our workshop. They might also differ because of specific fittings on the individual bike such as electronic gears rather than manual gears. What this means is that being able to know the peculiarities of your own bike, hands on, is valuable knowledge to have.
By the close of our ninety minute workshop, we’d also stepped through removing the front tyre, removing the rear tyre, everyday maintenance, and emergency repairs like changing a flat tyre. And that brings me to the tack in my tyre. As I removed my rear tyre following the steps Jen and Adam had demonstrated so well, someone noticed a thumbtack firmly pinned into the tread of my tyre.
“Don’t worry”, Adam said, “We’ll be fixing that today!”
And we did! I did!
As Jen pulled out the tack, the air hissed free and the tyre went flat. Then, with a new tube in hand, a pair of tyre levers, plenty of clear guidance from the instructors and a little bit of grunt, I managed to change the flat tyre and have my bike ready to ride home.
It was definitely good timing to find a tack in my tyre. And I now feel a lot more confident about looking after my bike – and me! – when I’m out riding.
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