Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

Today I learned to change a bike tyre! I’ve never had a flat on my bike …and hope I haven’t jinxed myself for writing this. The roads here in Bali aren’t the smoothest, but miraculously since I’ve had my bike (7 or so years), I’ve never had to change a tyre. If I did happen to get a puncture, I wouldn’t have far to go for a ‘benkel’ (mecanic), as they’re pretty much in every village. It’s really not a skill I need here, however… riding my bike in France… I’d better be prepared!.

This week I’m on a training refresher week at work, just updating my skills and learning or reinforcing our safety and policy procedures. As we offer bike rides to our groups, we had a run though on our safety checks and briefings. This usually doesn’t include changing a tyre, as we have a bike mechanic in a support vehicle to do this if needed, but I had mentioned to our trainer that I’d like to learn. After he had run through our safety check he turned the bike upside down and gave us a tyre changing lesson. For some reason, this task had seemed rather daunting, and I had been very apprehensive about it, worrying about what I would do if I had a puncture in France. I had had images of being in the middle of the French countryside and trying to watch YourTube instructional videos on bike maintenance on my phone, but it’s really not that hard after all – here’s a link that explains how to change a bike tyre.

I also learnt about the ‘M’ check, a simple way to remember to check all the parts of a bike before a ride – a ‘visual mnemonic’, I guess. Follow the ‘M’ of the bike and check all the relevant parts.

So now, armed with my new skills (feeling calm and Zen-like), I’m ready to face any obstacles (or nails or broken glass) those French roads throw at me.

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