Help at hand

Grizzled veteran shows how it is done

So there we were, me, young George and a trio of riding companions blatting along the flinty Dorset lanes between Blandford and Wimborne on a recce ride of the imminent Kingston Lacey edition of the Santini Sportive Series when George flatted. Pinch-flatted at that; one of said flints had cut a nice slice in the tread of his tyre, luckily without damaging the carcass, and had done nicely for the inner tube.

By the time the rest of us had stopped, admired the view, checked for emails, observed the migratory patterns of several bird species and turned back to see what was wrong, he had managed to get his rear wheel out and was busy trying to remove the tyre.

Now, at this point I’ll surmise that the majority of RCUK readers will sympathise with his predicament rather than ours, which was to be stuck watching someone engaged in an unequal struggle with rubber, metal and Kevlar. After all, every forum thread on tyre removal gets dozens of plaintive requests for advice.

George had it easier in one way at least; advice was readily to hand. Unfortunately for him, it was being readily given and not always with the aim of helping him overcome his rubbery opponent. This had the required effect, which was to hinder his efforts and make him cross. At which point, with lunch pending but receding into the distant future, I felt able to step in and offer a consoling pat on the shoulder before taking over.

Apparently this process is a universal feature of group rides. There is always someone, usually old and grizzled, waiting impatiently in the wings as the incident victim ( it is rarely said grizzled and impatient old person) valiantly attempts a repair. And equally inviolable is the rule that, observed by said sage, the victim will steadily fall into despondency and hand the offending piece of machinery over to be fixed.

On some rides, this will be accompanied by the promise of coffee/beer/cider at the next stop. As often as not, however, the pleasure of helping the unfortunate and speeding the group on its way is reward enough. And George doesn’t drink coffee.


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