By Sheila Ascroft
I’m more adventurous on my solo rides because I know how to fix a flat. In fact, last season I fixed way too many until I discovered this negligible splinter of metal hiding in the tire tread. Buried is more accurate. I finally found it by rubbing an old nylon along the inside of the tire until it snagged, then used tweezers.
Still, all that practice helped me gain skill and confidence. And now, I know that pre-glued patches are worth their weight in gold. So much more efficient and reliable than the old glue-your-own style. I also found that a good bike pump is vital when stranded. Some of those mini pumps on the market are small, light and easy to carry, but are basically useless. I can’t pump enough air into the tire to make it rideable. I suppose the Arnold Schwarzeneggers out there have the muscle to do it though.
Skinny road tires take high pressure and without enough the chances are good that it will flat again, or worse, damage the rim. So, I bought a “road morph” pump. It’s like a mini floor pump with a fold out little air hose, handle and foot piece. It works! I could easily get in more than 100 pounds of pressure. Now, when I see a cyclist stranded, I gladly offer my services. After all, I now have the equipment and know-how to really help.
I’ve been cycling for 20-some years and writing about it for the last 10. My articles have been published in newspapers and magazines — and now on the women’s cycling website! I’m a member of the Ottawa Bicycle Club and the Canadian Kilometer Achiever Program. www.sheilaascroft.com