“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” ― Albert Einstein
I couldn’t agree more. Life is like riding a bicycle, and since I have the privilege to live with a passionate cyclist, I am learning a lot about it everyday. One thing I learned, or pretend I did learn, is how to change a flat tire. My boyfriend made sure in my first few rides to show me out to change one, so that I could be autonomous when I go on my own. Even though I know theoretically how to do it, and if I had to, I believe I could, I am still quite lazy when we got for rides and I let him do the work. However, I am always by his side when he gets his hands dirty changing my flat tire, and here are the few tricks that I learned along. Because life is life, and no matter how careful you are, even if you have the best Gatorskin tires on your bike, there will be bumps on the road, and you better be ready.
Always carry a bike repair kit
Make sure to never go on a bike ride without a mini bike pump, a spare tube or patch kit and tire levers.
Remove the tire and find the culprit
The first step to repair a flat tire is to remove the tire off the rim, using your tire levers. Once it’s done, you remove the tube and pump air into it to find the leak. This one step is very important to know how you got your flat and make sure not to make the same mistake again. Two holes side by side means you had a pinch-flat: your tube got pinched between the tire and the rim, so you probably didn’t install it properly the first time around. A single hole must have most likely been cause by a sharp object such as a piece of glass. In that case, you have to check your tire to make sure it didn’t pierce through it and that it’s not longer there to avoid another flat.
Patch or change your tube
You can either choose to patch your tube right away, with a patch that you will glue to your tube once you will have cleaned your tube or with a glueless patch. We prefer (notice the “we” referring to my boyfriend doing it while I am watching) to use a new tube and try to fix the pierced tube back home. Once you get your new tube or your patched tube ready, inflate it a bit, then insert it into the tire with the valve stem installed straight. Now the hard work starts, since you have to work the tire back into the rim with your hands rolling the bead away from yourself. You have to play around a bit here to make sure the tube is not stuck between the tire and the rim, so that’s why it is the most important part of the process. Once the tube and the tire are both in place, you can inflate completely, checking as you do so that the bead is seated correctly (thanks Bicycling for all the details).
As I said, I know how to change flat tires, although I prefer not to have to. Everytime I go on a bike ride, I pray the Lord so that I won’t have to change one, because it is hard. Despite having all the right tools, it is still a challenge for me. Yet, flat tires won’t keep me from biking. Even if I am afraid that I won’t be able to do it, I confront my fear and go for ride bikes all alone. I choose to have faith, faith in myself, and faith in others on my way to help me if I fail to repair my flat tire on my own.
There will be bumps on the road. There will be sharp things that get on your way and stop you from getting where you want to go as fast as you want to. However, the farther you go, the more flat tires you face, the better you get, and the less time it takes you to get back on your bike to keep on going. When you make a mistake once, you make sure to not make it twice.
Flat tires are great. It means you are in motion. It means you are moving forward, on to some other amazing adventure, to discover new territories. No matter what shows up on your road, remember that you always have all you need to face it in your back pocket.