I went to ride my bike today and discovered it had a flat tire. Not just any flat tire, but the BACK tire. Bummer. I’ve developed my own method for changing tires that’s worked pretty well in the past:
1. Get out bike. Discover the flat tire.
2. Lay out the new tube, tire levers and tire pump.
3. Ask husband to change tire.
That method has worked great so far. The problem is, I’m supposed to be real biker now, and real bikers change their own tires. I’ve signed up to be the bike leg of a triathlon relay team, and competitors are not supposed to receive help during the competition. No help getting out of wetsuits, putting on shoes, or changing tires. The tri is still 3 months away and I’m already having nightmares of my walking 5 miles carrying my bike because I couldn’t change my own tire. And letting down my team. And letting the record show forever a time of 3.5 hours for my first official bike ride.
Trouble is, I’m a weakling. I can’t even pump up my own tires. When I bike with my bffs they pump up the tires for me. How pathetic is that? They’re girls, I’m a girl, but I can’t do it. I’m jumping up and down on the tire pump and nothing. My friends even have to lift my bike on top of the car for me. I’m like a helpless little kid. But that’s about to change.
I’m sitting in the tire changing workshop. The guy from the bike shop is making it look so easy. Put your chain onto the smallest sprocket. Okay, I can do that. Next, release the brakes. That’s pretty easy too. Now, turn the quick release to loosen the wheel. I watch in fascination as the bike shop guy breezes through the steps. The tire is back in place in no time. I vow that the next time I have a flat tire, I’m going to change it myself. Trouble is, it could be weeks or even months before I get a flat, and I’m certainly not going to change a good tire just for practice. But turns out that God does have a sense of humor – I find the flat on by bike only two days after taking the tire workshop. What luck! And at least I can change this one in the comfort of my own home instead of on the side of the road with cars zooming by.
Step 1: Put the chain on the smallest sprocket. Turns out this is the opposite gear of what I think it should be. Done. Step 2: Loosen the brake; remove the skewer and the wheel. Check. This is farther than I’ve ever gotten with tire changing before. I feel empowered.
Step 3: Jam the tire levers into the wheel rim to loosen the tire. Try both ends because neither one seems to be doing anything. Do this for at least 20 minutes. Step 4: Lay the wheel down cassette-side up on the floor. Right in the middle of the living room works best.
Step 5: Allow wheel to rest on floor for several hours, or until husband comes home, feels sorry for you and changes tire. Alternate step 5: Put wheel and bike in car, take to bike shop, and pay bike shop guy whatever it takes to change tire. Step 6: Voila! Tire changed.