How the Other Half Live

In proof that no good deed goes unpunished, I was rewarded for my efforts to encourage cycling among kids yesterday with a puncture this morning that turned out to be not so much a Bastard Big Thorn as an entire twig which had somehow overcome my tyre’s puncture protection and got itself thoroughly embedded (I had passed the hedge-cutting tractor and wondered if I ought to worry, but I noted it was cutting hawthorn rather than blackthorn and decided I’d be okay… Big mistake).

Bastard Big Thorn

Fortunately I was visiting the office of a cycling friend so she helped* me wrestle with the tyre and provided a patch. Unfortunately, we were so focused on removing the Bastard Big Thorn and getting the tyre back on, we made the schoolgirl error of not checking the inner tube was actually holding air first. I was so demoralised when the tyre immediately went flat again that I let her get back to work and wheeled the bike to the nearest bike shop which has only recently opened (I like to think that Bigtown can only maintain three bike shops plus Halfords because of all the easy tenners they make fixing my punctures) and proceeded on foot to Aldi where I was intent on securing some bargain basement merino.

It’s not a part of town I go to that frequently, to be honest. It’s not a great road to cycle on and, Aldi cycling specials aside, there aren’t many reasons to visit, although possibly the bike shop will change that. But walking up that road, I realised that, unpleasant as it is to cycle on, pedestrians have it much worse. At least on a bike I can pretend to be a car and take a nice direct route, while pedestrians have to be penned in to prevent them from crossing the road in a straight line (after all, with cars enabled to make such nice sweeping turns, it simply wouldn’t be safe to let them cross where it would be convenient for them).

car desire lines

Car desire lines catered for; pedestrian desire lines thwarted.

Cyclists are considered to be an angry, organised bunch, but this sort of thing makes me wonder where all the angry, organised pedestrians are. If I actually spent any time on foot I’d be hopping mad at this sort of thing, all the time. It’s probably fortunate for the coonsil that I’m generally too lazy to walk if I can ride my bike and anyway already have my hands full moaning about the cycle provision. As it is, anyone would think they actually wanted us to drive …

* OK, she did it while I made helpful suggestions and passed her tools.


4 Responses to How the Other Half Live

  1. Kim says:

    Have you considered putting “tubeless tyre” sealant in your tyres? Apparently with many inner tubes you can unscrew the top of the valve and pour the stuff in (or do what I do, and get Hannah at the bike shop to do it for you). It works surprisingly well.

  2. ballsofwool says:

    So agree about the desire lines thing. My council receive endless complaints /suggestions from me on this subject. I think they’ve got a dedicated wastepaper bin for my letters.

  3. Charles says:

    I got so annoyed with flat tyres in London that I used to travel with a spare inner tube, either new or properly repaired. I also carried a puncture repair kit in case the commuting gods really did not like me. It does not weigh very much and they live in the pocket of my bike bag so I always have them. Guess who used to be an engineer and is still a smug little Virgo….

  4. disgruntled says:

    @Kim the suggestion has been made. I don’t know that anything works against blackthorns though & I assume there is some downside, or tubes would just come like that …
    @ballsofwool – I think the coonsil here has one of those too
    @Charles – I did have a spare inner tube for a while, but it means taking the whole wheel off, whereas patching can be done in situ. And the last time I tried to use it, it had developed a puncture of its own

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