*Tillie & Coco Flashback!* Flat tyre woes (2010)

by tillieandcoco

Hi Coco,

It’s great to have you back on the blog! A delight tempered of course by news of your flat rear tyre caused by cycle lane glass sabotage. What kind of world is this? I hope you are able to get it fixed in time for WOOP!

A flat tyre can easily be taken personally. I’ve only had one flat tyre incident (so far – touch wood), which is lucky considering how much debris collects on the shoulder of roads in this city. I’ve ridden through a great deal of broken glass in London, and each time I hold my breath. My flat tyre happened last year in midsummer, just as I was gaining enough stamina to cycle to work five days in a row, and it was a huge inconvenience. Luckily for me it happened only a few metres from home, but it was nonetheless a horrible moment. I still remember the awful, heart-sinking sound of escaping air and the slow lowering of my back wheel as the tyre flattened. I had veered to the side of the street to avoid a speed hump, as I did every afternoon, but there were some particularly sharp shards in the gap which I didn’t see in time. Even my puncture-proof tyres were no match for their nasty bite.

Of course I wanted to rectify this situation as soon as possible – I couldn’t bear Blackie looking so crippled and unroadworthy. I lugged her up the stairs to the safety of the store cupboard, and then power-walked as fast as I could over to my nearest Evan’s Cycles for advice/tools/spare parts, only to discover that they didn’t stock Pashley-sized tyres or inner-tubes, despite the fact that they sell many a Pashley (they were selling a Princess Classic even as I was waiting in line). No, they said, I’d have to order my tyre and inner tube ‘special’ and it would take two weeks. What!! I stormed home, composing a complaint letter in my head the whole way, and quickly ordered my supposedly bespoke parts on the internet – at least that way I wouldn’t have to wait a fortnight – determined to make the repairs myself.

The tyre and inner-tube appeared in an oddly-shaped parcel on Saturday morning. I quickly converted the bedroom into an Extreme Bicycle Maintenance Workshop, instruction manual and some shiny new tools on hand. Balancing Blackie on her seat and handlebars, I set to work, worrying the entire time that I was going to put everything back on in the wrong order. Unsurprisingly, the back tyre is really annoying to change. Removing the chain case was a palaver all of its own. After hours of yelling, wrenching, worrying, and swearing, I managed to get the new tyre and tube onto the wheel and the wheel back on the frame. Well proud of self, I celebrated with a big soapy wash of hands, a cup of tea and an iced bun.

Least-easy-to-follow instructions ever. The book actually says “remove the screw marked with a black arrow”… Huh? Which black arrow would that be? Oh, the one printed in black on black. Right.
But I did learn some hilarious new bicycle part terms: 
sliding barrel nipple” (!)
“torque reaction arm”
“brake torque arm bolt”
“gear shift toggle chain”
“anti-rotation tab washers”

The corner shop/hardware store profited greatly from my flat tyre. At least I’m tooled to the hilt for the next incident.
Extreme Bicycle Maintenance Workshop.
I did it without you, Evans!