Punctures on the pushbike really highlight the ups and downs of life.
They tend to come in bursts and have a similar effect on your emotions.
According to my bike repair man, 2018 will go down as one of the great “burr” years of all time. Reckons he’ll retire on the back of them. I know I have recently, about three times because of those little “tank traps”. So much for riding to work being quicker and more direct, and so much for co-habiting with nature.
But chin up man, and if you’re too weak to do a chin up, try changing a tyre.
Just before bed, perhaps, in your pyjamas, because you figure it would be better to get this done now so you can hop on the bike next morning and get back in the rat race.
It ain’t that hard with the right attitude.
Which shouldn’t include having a “Hulk” moment – turning green, erupting in rage, making guttural noises – but it seems to help wrestling the tyre off the wheel with nothing but your fingers and spoons, screw drivers and whatever else you can jam in there.
And yes, there is something life affirming when you do manage to get the tyre off and then shoehorn a tube back in.
But it’s a joy quickly muted when you find you’ve pinched and successfully ruined the replacement tube. Cue Hulk II, because it’s gonna have to come off again.
Luckily enough, if you’re lucky, which judging by the fact you get a puncture might suggest you’re not, you might find a replacement tube in the garage, if that’s where all this is going down – which it is.
Because you’ve been through this “riding to work” phase many times, and the “fixing the puncture thing” that comes with it, and over the journey you’ve built up a backlog of “spares” somewhere in the home brew cupboard.
Doesn’t necessarily mean “the right size spares”, though, which becomes apparent after Hulk II. Seems you’ve still got a good two inches of tube to stuff into the tyre cavity.
It doesn’t seem right but you stuff it in anyhow hoping it’ll be OK because hoping is the key to your bicycle maintenance approach.
What you’re left with after inflation is a bike tyre that looks like it’s swallowed a rat, and rotates like the figure 8. After inflation comes deflation. And you thought you could knock this task over without breaking into a sweat. Cue Hulk III.
There is the dream, and there is the lather, which was the reality by the time I got to bed. And of course when I woke up next morning the tyre was down again, and so were my spirits. Really I should pinch myself and not the tube.
But resilience was up, motivated by a desire to watch YouTube repair videos. Eventually I was back in the game only to discover later that afternoon after work, looking forward to a refreshing ride home actually, another puncture courtesy of another burr. This time in the back wheel.
With no quick release or spare tube, I was left to contemplate the heavy burr-dom of life when all is punctured.
And catch a bus home.