I was cycling home this afternoon congratulating myself on having dodged a heavy shower and enjoying the way the sunshine was making countryside look all sparkly and washed clean, even the cows. I passed the hedge-cutting tractor without really thinking about it except to note how politely he backed up and pulled aside to let me pass. And I was over the big A-road and heading for home when I noticed the front wheel was more than a little soggy. Indeed, it was going flat. In fact it now was flat and I was a good three miles away from home.

This would have gone better had I not, this morning, looked at the bike pump lying on the kitchen table and, for reasons which are not clear to me, decided not to put it in my bag. Nor did I have my mobile phone, because pah, what could go wrong on a routine ride on a September day? Suddenly I was looking at a looooooong walk home.

Unless … unless there was someone at the farmyard I was just about to cycle through who had a pump. Two men welding a gate pointed me at the boss and the boss leaned out of his landrover window and said ‘if you go round that corner you’ll find the gentleman who’s in charge of helping ladies in distress.’ Round the corner I went and found the gentleman in question, complete with bright red overalls, who had a look, diagnosed hedge-cutting season as the cause and used his air compressor to get my front tyre full enough of air to get me within half a mile of home. I never found the thorn, but there was a tiny little hole in the inner tube that suggests he was right. I’m getting more practised at this flat tyre mending lark, although my inner tube replacement technique does still consist mainly of asking the other half to show me what to do (again) and then standing by while he does it after my puny efforts have failed (again). I feel somehow that this diminishes me as a cyclist in some quarters. After all, this isn’t Copenhagen where there’s a bike shop on every corner.

Still, it is rural Scotland where it turns out there’s a knight in shining overalls round every corner instead. Maybe that will be enough to get me through the rest of hedge-cutting season, that and remembering to take my pump with me when my guardian angels have been kind enough to point it out to me.

Oh and the stove? Arrived at 4pm yesterday but with the glass for the door in several bits. T-shirt wearing indoors continues to elude us.

18 Responses to Pssssssstttt

  1. The Paper Boy says:

    A bottle of Slime (or similar) would save you a lot of walking/begging for air… makes the wheels feel a bit queer at first and won’t save you in the event of a big puncture but the little stuff it will cope with.

  2. The Paper Boy says:

    Hmmm – posted a comment that possibly WordPress didn’t like… Slime (or other tyre sealant) is your friend at this time of year. Won’t stop a huge gash in your tyre, but will stop most thorn hedge clipping-related puncturage.

  3. Ruaraidh says:

    Oh yes. Hedge cutters = thorns…. Time for the wee pouch repair kit that hangs from the saddle. Need some QR wheels and the lightweight plastic tyre levers and you’re away!

  4. disgruntled says:

    Ruaraidh – you’ve not seen me change an inner tube. I could fit the repair kit etc. on board, but having the other half ride pillon everywhere might be a bit impractical. Still, it looks like I might be getting some practice

  5. Amaranthine says:

    You need some green gloop!

  6. John Gibson says:

    Three miles a long walk! not for a young fit lady like yourself. I had tons of punctures when I was little, probably because of worn tyres, so I got lots of practise mending them.

  7. disgruntled says:

    Amaranthine – is that the same as slime?
    John – I know, I could do it, but cycling has spoiled me for walking and wheeling a bike is a pain – literally as I always seem to end up with the pedal in my shin…

  8. welshcyclist says:

    Sadly I’m not much better, I’ve never attempted to fix a flat beside the road, always phoned to be picked up. Then fixed flat at work or home, but it takes me longer than the “experts” 10 minutes.

  9. sebbie says:

    I feel so much better for reading that. I have just bitten the bullet and asked my neighbour for cycle maintainance help because I’m clueless. (We managed to trade the loan of our top box for help on his return from abroad – hows that for a deal? )

  10. disgruntled says:

    Oh good you two – so glad I’m not the only one

  11. WOL says:

    Such a bother to have your nice ride interrupted by a puncture — but I know first hand about the knights in shining overalls of Scotland — Mine was a blacksmith in a little villiage near Craigievar Castle who welded a broken bit back together on my little luggage trolley and then refused to take any payment. — I lugged this full size suitcase around on that little trolley as I “trained” and “bussed” about GB and Scotland for two glorious weeks — the one and only time I’ve been to Scotland. The people I encountered there were unceasingly friendly and helpful, and just generally delightful.

  12. […] city, while Southport offers a bike-friendly escape for vacationing Brits. Rescued by a knight in shiny red overalls with a tire pump. Feast your eyes on the new 2011 Pinarellos and the Canyon Strive enduro […]

  13. […] has come to our attention that a recent post from our client might possibly have been interpreted as implying that she wanted more practice in […]

  14. kimharding says:

    Slime is ‘orrible, can I suggest Schwalbe Marathon’s they have a reputation for being almost bomb proof, no more Psssttt Psssttt…

  15. disgruntled says:

    But they are Schwalbe Marathons… I must have got a dodgy pair

  16. […] several cottages, all of which managed to appear completely deserted. At the farm where I had been rescued before, not a soul stirred – and besides, turning up twice in the same farm with a flat tyre looked […]

  17. […] Now, I always stop and ask if I can help when I see a cyclist by the side of the road, because it just seems wrong not to, but I have to confess, I’m usually relieved when they wave me on. The odds of a stranded cyclist having something wrong with their bike that is so simple that I can fix it, but not so simple that anybody else can’t fix it, AND it requiring the somewhat patchy content of my toolkit (tyre levers, patches, dumbell spanner, cheering-up sweeties, wrong size of allen key and usually no pump due to the iron law that you’ll always have left your pump in your other bike bag), are pretty long. But it turned out today that she had a pump and a spare inner tube, but no tyre levers, and the theory but no actual experience of changing a flat tyre. Between us, then, we made an awesome team. We extracted not one but two Bastard Big Thorns out of her tyre (one of them was so large I suggested she get it stuffed and mounted) and she was back up and running just in time for a man to cycle past, notice the two extremely competent females dealing with the problem, and pedal on with barely a hitch in his cadence. She was happy that she now felt she could deal with a puncture herself (a good thing, as hedge-cutting season is in full swing and nothing is proof against Bastard Big Thorns) and I was delighted to have cancelled out my woeful performance on Saturday, and also made a slight dent in the giant debt I have accrued from all the times someone else has helped me with my bike. […]

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