Tag Archives: Puncture

Search and Rescue

Despite snow still laying in the ground, I went to bed last night hopeful that today would see my first on-road cycle of the year.  I awoke from my slumber to see a clear sky, a light breeze and no signs of rain or frost.  Things we’re looking promising!

The weatherman promised temperatures of between 2 – 4 degrees C.  It was going to be chilly!  Six layers on my upper half (two wind proof), would hopefully do the trick.  Add thick gloves, a hat and a snood, two pairs of leggings and shoe covers.  I was confident I would survive!

So, I headed out.  Solo.  Keen to test my fitness after hundreds of miles on the Turbo Trainer.

I immediately realised my judgement of the wind was over optimistic.  Rather than “light breeze” I re-assessed this to be a “fresh breeze”, potentially even a “strong breeze” (Isn’t the Beaufort Scale awfully polite!  I would describe the weather as being “bloody windy”. If there were a Cyclist’s Wind Scale it would have recorded something along the lines of “Liable to significantly disrupt forward motion, sideways diversions also possible.”)

However, I was out and moving (albeit slowly!).  The fact that the first 20 miles of so were going to be into the teeth of the wind didn’t dampen my spirit.  I was looking forward to fighting through and then flying home.

It was tough going!

Time to consider some alternative bike designs?

There were a number of options on my route.  I could easily add or lose 10 miles if I wanted to.  My battle against the wind resulted in me stopping to rest before the first major decision point.  By the time I reached it I had decided to get the miles in and not to worry about the speed, so rather than heading home, I headed out into the country.

The road was in poor shape.  Single track.  Rutted and covered in debris left by run-off from recent storms.  At my furthest point from home, the inevitable happened…  I picked up a rear puncture.  D’oh!

My options were limited.  Obviously I wasn’t carrying supplies.  Why would I do that?  I’d never need them.  Even if I had a new inner tube with me, time was against me.  The conditions were far from ideal, but more pressingly we had a lunch appointment with the in-laws that couldn’t be missed!

I felt helpless and frustrated.  (In reality I guess it was more along the lines of being hopeless and frustrating!)

Perhaps it’s time to get a dog?

Having quickly assessed the situation, I did what anyone would have done in my situation… I called home for assistance.  I was getting close to desperation by the time that the phone was answered on my third attempt.  I had got Louise (my wife) out of the shower. (I think the girls will need some more training before manning the phones in an emergency response unit.  It could have taken hours before they got off the sofa to answer the phone!).

Louise:  …
Me:  “Yes it is an emergency.”
Louise:  …
Me:  “No, not that sort of emergency.”
Louise:  …
Me:  “I have a puncture.”
Louise:  …
Me:  “I’m in the middle of nowhere.”
Louise:  …
Me:  “Can you please come and get me?”

Fortunately the promise of a Sunday lunch with the family had put her in a good mood, and with little persuasion Louise kindly agreed to come to my rescue.

I felt better immediately, but I was conscious that I would get cold quickly.  I wasn’t yet out of danger!  Putting my survival skills into action I found a nice bench to sit on, in the sun but out of the wind.  Perfect!

After what seemed like an eternity, Louise found me.  Still conscious.  In good spirits.  Safe.  My hero!


So what will I do differently in the future?

Well, firstly I guess I’ll have to practice repairing a rear puncture again.

And I guess it’s about time I started taking the repair kit and tools I received for Christmas with me when I head out.  I really don’t fancy having to test my workmanship out on the road, but at least it’ll make me a (little) bit more self-sufficient (little being the operative word!).

Of course, avoiding getting punctures would be a good move too!

Rites of Passage

I am still very much a novice cyclist.  Each time I get on a bike there’s a significant chance that something will happen that I haven’t experienced before.  Obviously I try to be as prepared for any eventuality as possible, but inevitably surprises will occur!

Last week I took a big step forward on a couple of fronts…

Firstly, I decided to take a Fitness test.  I know I have made huge improvements in my strength and fitness since I started cycling in July last year (See “Try something new“).  I did start from a ridiculously low level though… I’d just had a Heart Attack after all!

Until now I’ve had no basis for measuring my improvement.  In fact, other than judging by how I feel I haven’t had any way of measuring how I have performed in any of my training sessions.  So, the Fitness test… The Sufferfest’s “Rubber Glove“.

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I have learned that in cycling a key measure is one’s Functional Threshold Power (FTP).  This is a measure of how much power you can generate over a period of time – how hard you can pedal for 20 minutes in this case.

Having built myself up to doing the test, I was side-swiped by learning experience number two…

At some point during the warm-up I developed a puncture.  It took me a few minutes to work out what had happened.  The first indication was that my back wheel slipped on the Turbo Trainer when I tried to put the power down.  Having cleaned and adjusted the Turbo Trainer (in vain), I touched the wheel… the tyre was flat as a pancake.  Fitness test failed!  Game over!

I’m not sure about the professionals, but in the amateur scene, real cyclists also seem to be mechanics.  They all appear to have bike workshops and are never happier than when tinkering… an adjustment here, a tweak there.  I am not one of those people!

Since I bought my bikes my maintenance regime has involved the occasional application of oil to the chain.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” 

Unfortunately it was now broke!

With some trepidation, I set to work,..  In less than two hours I managed to replace the tyre and the inner tube, locating the puncture in the process.  The procedure was stressful, messy and more than a little chaotic, but I got it done (eventually)!


My high-tech FTP data recording system

The following evening (after a good night’s sleep) I completed the fitness test.  I now have an official FTP.  It’s strange, but I feel somehow closer to my bike too.

I feel like I’m slowly growing up!