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Changing a tyre – it’s a risky business!! by Adrian Fairbank

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It wasn’t long before the subject of tyres came up.

When I bought the bike I had bought a spare inner tube and a pump and was shown how to change a tyre. Retrospectively given my Kolbe score I was surprised that I hadn’t practiced changing a tyre in the warm confines of the garage.

The rules of the Velominati (http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/) – more of them later-say you should never put your bicycle on it’s back but when I had my first puncture on the back tyre that’s how it ended up. Your friends are looking at you with critical eye, and you want to try and make it look easy, as if you’ve done this many times before and generally look cool. I decided to adopt a different approach  – of immediately and freely admitting that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Although they say many hands make light work many voices don’t and the advice that came made the process much more difficult.

Remembering to release the brakes at the front to allow the wheel off was the first delay. Getting the tyre off with the levers was straightforward and removing the inner tube similarly so. I have spent 30 minutes standing by Nigel on the Chiltern 100  Sportive more recently because the little ring at the base of the valve had cold welded to the wheel and made it impossible to remove without pliers – don’t tighten these up too much.

As much as you try your hands are covered in oil and dirt by now and because it’s autumn or nearly winter your fingers are actually freezing and is not uncommon in your first few tyre changes to find that you start to curse.

The new inner tube goes in, you lever the tyre back on with the levers and then a hand pump attaches – not as easy as it sounds actually. Of course this is the first time you’ve used this little hand pump (I use a ‘Pocket Rocket’) -and for some reason as hard as you try to pump nothing happens. Cursing again you take the tyre off again, pull out the tube and find that in the process of inserting it and replacing the tyre it has pinched the rubber, or you’ve left the offending stone or nail in the tyre wall (I have seen one colleague cyclist get through three inner tubes with this school boy error). I did complete the two most important parts of tyre change and carefully examined the inner surface of the tyre for the offending stone or pin or nail and took the opportunity to remove them.

On my Ride London sportive this year, drawing pins have been found in our tyres-deliberate sabotage by disgruntled locals who resent their back yard being invaded by cyclists. Unfortunately if you buy a house in an area of outstanding beauty like the Surrey Hills people are going to want to cycle there.

Anyway the tyres now on, its blown up, and we are ready to run away again. Pelaton rules say it is my turn to buy the coffees after such an event. So that part of the ride added up to the cost of the tube, and fifteen blueberry muffins. Front wheel punctures scare me – you have very little control and very little chances to save yourself at speed. On some of the stretches downhill on the Alpine challenge I would be going 60 km an hour or more and front wheel puncture could have significantly painful results.

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