So, it’s been a couple of weeks since my bike was declared terminal, and since then I’ve been riding a mixture of my friend’s e-bike and the Brompton (the latter out of paranoia that I’ll get too spoiled by the e-bike and not be able to go back). It’s been an interesting experience having an extended loan of the e-bike and I was thinking, as I set off to town today to do some Christmas shopping, that I should put together some reflections on how I’ve found it, particularly as that is exactly the sort of trip that the bike (a solidly practical utility number) was designed for.
Sadly it was not to be as – half way into town – I got that sinking feeling … for yea, verily, it is that wonderful time of the year: blackthorn cutting season, and yea, the puncture fairy had struck again. Of course I had neither pump nor repair kit on me, which was stupid because e-bikes are magic in many ways, but they’re not that magic. With a completely flat back tyre, the only option was to call for help, and then spend an interesting few minutes with the other half trying to work out how to get a very large and heavy bike into quite a small hatchback (take both wheels off, is the answer, in case you’re wondering).
But that’s not the revelation. The revelation was when we got home and I decided that, seeing as the wheels were already off, I should probably just go ahead and fix the puncture rather than slinging the whole thing into the garage and dealing with it on another day. Like my old bike, this one has Marathon Plus tyres (blackthorn might laugh in the face of their alleged puncture resitance but they are quite good at shrugging off broken glass). Unlike my old bike, though, getting the tyre on and off the wheel does not require a mimimum of thirty minutes of swearing, muttering under my breath and silently cursing all forms of active travel while weepily wondering why other people can make tyre levers work. The tyre just came off. And when I’d found the thorn (and it was a doozy), removed it and replaced the inner tube, it just went back on again. Just like that. It took fifteen minutes, and that included the time take to tweet about it in surprise.
I’ve spent a good decade coming to terms with the fact that I’m rubbish at bike maintenance, and that it doesn’t make me a bad cyclist or a generally inept person (I mean I may still be pretty inept but not because of my inability to repair a puncture). I’m probably still pretty rubbish at most aspects of it, but at least I now know that, when it comes to changing tyres, I have been playing with the difficulty level set to high. Not max, perhaps (that would be getting a Marathon Plus onto the back wheel of my Brompton, a challenge which I have declined even to attempt, much to the disgust of some), but definitely high. And I’m taking that as a win.