30 Days of Biking #7 – Puncture virginity lost

It was a busy night at the Bike Project’s Women’s Night, so the usual volunteers Hattie, Jo and Carrie were rather oversubscribed. I was lucky to find myself working next to friendly veteran Jade (who’s cycled through Iceland and “used to work in a place like this“) expertly tutoring her young daughter Amber, a sight to warm the cockles of this hardened feminist’s heart.

Jade saved me a lot of time and frustration, volunteering a lot of helpful basics and advanced tricks (like holding the inner tube to your eyeball to feel the air coming out, and if necessary spitting on the thing to precisely locate an invisible hole). She located my puncture in the process of showing me where I’d been going wrong with the bucket thing (squeezing the inflated tube under water helps locate invisible punctures via bubbles, but this had so far failed me because I wasn’t twisting). She then found the thorn in the tyre that had caused it, which young Amber pulled out while I was trying to find tweezers in my bag.

I did the patching up myself, but not without the intervention of my eagle-eyed guardian angel for the evening, nipping a few mistakes in the bud.

I really must remember to prepare before my visits to Women’s Night rather than rely on experts to show me the way as I go along. This could mean revisiting my notes from the maintenance workshop I attended at the Bike Project over a year ago, or the ones from the sessions organised by the local Breeze Network at Roll for the Soul more recently. It could also mean looking things up on YouTube. Or on Sheldon Brown’s hideous looking but, I’m told, very helpful website, as recently recommended by a friend.

Part of the reason I didn’t bother on this occasion, I guess, was that I was expecting not to find the puncture any more than I did last week, so Jade also saved me £6 on a new inner tube.

She had taken Amber home by the time I put the wheel back on, so I did have to grab one of the long-suffering volunteers to check I hadn’t done that wrong (not this time – could I be getting the hang of something?). I hope Hattie didn’t feel unappreciated when I waxed lyrical about my fellow punters’ generous assistance…

I don’t know whether I’d have started cycling or kept it up if it wasn’t for the abundance of free or affordable services (more on these later) and the enthusiasm of existing practitioners in lovely Bristol.


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