Someday you’ll have to learn to fix your own flat, so carpe diem! Learn how BEFORE you need to change it on your own, on a street or trail, in what could be inclement weather.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to teach several women how to fix their own flats at the University Village Athleta store in Seattle, WA. I am always grateful that they support my coming in to teach this clinic.
Athleta, Seattle store Fix a Flat Clinic
The empowerment that you receive by knowing how to help yourself is amazing, and freeing. To those of you who have been fixing your own flats for years, you might not remember how it felt before, but I was one of those women, who didn’t ride much until my 30’s and remember very clearly. There was always a certain level of anxiety that I felt when I headed out, onto the streets or a nearby trail. I ended up circling my neighborhood, or only riding within a certain mileage from home in order to be able to walk or ask a friend for help. I had all the supplies, but wasn’t sure exactly if I could do it.
When I teach people how to fix a flat, it is always ‘hands on.’ I am a very kinetic and visual learner, so know that if you can do it yourself once, you can most likely do it again. There was some anxiety in the room as these women took apart their perfectly fine wheels with working tubes, only to put them back together. One needed to ride home on that wheel. I assured her that she was going to be able to accomplish this, and although skeptical, she did it.
For those of you who Do Not live in the Seattle area, I wanted you to, to be empowered.. as I know many of you have a hard time “asking” for help, or letting others know that you might not know exactly how to change your own tire, if needed.
First you need to BREATHE. Why is it, that when we are learning something new, we hold our breathe? Instead we should be breathing to keep our brains alive and frankly.. keep us from fainting :). Next, Whether you are truly confident in changing your own flat tube or not, make sure you CARRY ALL the supplies to do so. I can’t tell you how many times I have been running by cyclist on the trail near my home, to find someone in need of help who does NOT have what they need to fix their own flat tube. If they did, I could help them.
Remember, all kinds of people, in all ages are able to accomplish this. Even those that suffer from arthritis and more. You just need the tools, and a little belief! If you are one, who has hand ailments, or if your tires are really tight on your wheels and tough to remove or replace (as they often are when you first purchase them) know that a shop mechanic could help you find a set of tires that might not be so challenging to remove, thus taking some of the pressure of you. But don’t give up, keep practicing and you will get it.
I practice removing my tires on my racing bike before every race. When time is at a premium, you want to be able to do it without thinking.. so just like training for hills, starts, or transitions in multisport.. you need to practice changing your flat tubes!
Coach Mary Craig riding in Whistler & Pemberton B.C training for Ironman Canada.
NOW, head out and take apart your tires and practice! No time like the present to bring you a greater sense of FREEDOM on the roads!
*Note, these instructions are for changing Clincher tires that require tubes (most bikes utilize this form of tire). If you choose to use Tubular tires (ones that are glued onto your wheels,) then you will need to carry a spare TIRE with you, tear off your blown out Tubular tire, and place a new one on.. Just note that you can’t corner as fast on the new tire (after replaced) durig your ride/event, due to it not be glued in place. But once home, you can re-glue it (or have an experienced service manager do it for you) and you will be set.
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