I wheeled the bike out of the garage. It didn’t look very happy. If a bike could look grumpy, then it did.
It had had a long rest since I’d last used it around 5 years ago and it hadn’t been very impressed with the addition of a child seat then. It had been miffed about the basket, but had calmed down when I said it was for carrying wine, but putting a child seat onto what the bike thought of as a Serious Mountain Bike (it put on its serious face when it said this) was akin to painting a Model-T red. The bike does have a very high opinion of itself.
I propped it against the wall of the house and assessed the size of the job.
There were two flat tyres, the seat and frame were covered in cobwebs and dust and looked like a Halloween prop, orange rust had flowered on the once-shiny bits, the bright yellow baby seat had dulled and it made a strange squeaking noise. Basically, if Miss Havisham had owned a bike it would have looked like this.
Ironically, the basket on the front was the best bit. And this was the part that was to be removed. After deciding I was going to have a try at triathlon to give my Plantar Fasciitis plagued foot a rest, I had been told that I would have to remove my bike basket.
“But how would I carry my wine?” I’d asked, a bit perplexed.
This had worried me a bit until I remembered that I still had the child seat on the bike. Relieved I reasoned that the baby on the back could carry the wine during the triathlon.
Needing a bike rack, two new tubes and two tyres, I’d been advised to visit the local bike shop to support local businesses. Obviously sensing a lost cause, they told me to go to Halfords.
I did. 2 tyres, 2 tubes and a bike rack later I was back home wondering where £120 had gone.
Sulking somewhat I removed the basket and the child seat. I have to admit I had visions of being awesome and overtaking everyone on a bike with a basket full of wine and a child seat full of ... well, wine too ... but quite frankly I’m going to need all the help I can get on a bike. If taking off the basket and child seat and leaving the wine until AFTER the triathlon is going to help then I’m all for it. All for everything apart from the lack of wine, that is.
But I was putting my foot down on one thing. The bell was STAYING.
After a lot of fairy liquid, legions of unhappy, homeless spiders and a bit of squabbling with 5year old about who got the yellow sponge, we ended up with a bright, shiny, rust-free bike.
And my bike looked rather clean too.
However, I was still left with the problem of 2 flat tyres.
How exactly do you fix a tyre?
I remembered that the bike had to be upside down. Turned bike upside down. It promptly fell over again nearly flattening 5 year old. Removed child from vicinity of bike, straightened handlebars and tried again. Ok. The child has been dusted off and the bike is now upside down. What now?
A vague memory stirred about needing sandpaper and plasters and a bowl of soapy water but I wasn’t sure that this would work on bikes more recent than the 1950s. Besides I had been given 2 new tubes by the enthusiastic young man in Halfords. Who had assumed I knew what to do with them. I didn't like to disappoint his confidence in me and had accepted them with good grace. And confusion.
Pulling them out of the packets, they looked just like 2 deflated rubber rings. Toying briefly with the idea of putting the bike back into the garage and making balloon animals out of the tubes, (“A toy poodle!”) I turned to the No-Hoper’s last resort: YouTube.
Searching for “How to fix a puncture”, I soon found a helpful video and despite a brief moment of panic where I caught my finger between tyre and wheel rim, I was soon looking at my bike.
Clean, shiny and standing on two new tyres.
A working bike! I dinged the bell in satisfaction.
Now how do I actually go about actually riding one of these things?