Changing Flats… I’m on a roll

In early May, I was dreading changing my bike tire over from the trainer tire back to a regular road tire. I had never changed a tire fully on my own before, and the fact that it was the rear wheel was intimidating since it’s marginally more complicated than the front wheel.

Prior to that point, I had gotten exactly two flat tires in my past few of years of cycling. Both times were somehow mercifully within walking distance of an open bike shop. That was a mixed blessing, because this also meant that I’ve never had to learn to change a tire.

But I really wanted to get out and take advantage of being away from the big city this summer. I knew that meant some solo riding and I also knew that I’d need to be more self-sufficient if I got a flat out on my own. So, armed with some YouTube videos (linked at the end of this post), I sat down at an unhurried time and got to work.

In the end, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t that difficult! I used a tire lever to pry the trainer tire away from the rim, but when putting the old road tire on, I found I didn’t need tire levers at all. In fact, it was so much less intimidating than I expected that at first I thought I had done something terribly wrong! But I took the bike out for a quick spin and nothing exploded or fell apart so I gave myself a nice pat on the back and told myself this must mean I was Good At Changing Tires.

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Look at that tire, all tucked nicely in!

Of course, having decided that, the universe promptly decided to test my skills. The following week, I got a flat on my commuter bike in Toronto as I was heading to my soccer game. I didn’t have anything on me to repair it, but I was very lucky because I was about 20m away from a bike shop that still happened to be open!

The next week, as I was grabbing my bike from my friends’ balcony, I told them about how lucky I was to have had a flat so close to the bike shop. I gestured to my front wheel, and lo and behold… it was flat! I had ridden over some glass on the way in and must have had a slow bleed. Thankfully my friends are cyclists, and they had a patch kit handy. So I sat down in their living room and patched my tube and was all ready to show them how Good I Am At Changing Tires. Until I couldn’t get the tire back on. Oops. Needed tire levers and a bit of help for that one!

Finally, earlier this month, I was riding home at night from an outdoor shindig and I got a 3 inch long nail skewered right through my rear tire. Thankfully I didn’t crash, but I was so annoyed that I ripped the nail out and threw it in the trash, completely forgetting that I have a blog now and definitely should have saved it for a photo op. Alas. I’m learning. I had to TTC home the rest of the way (again – thankfully this happened right in front of a subway stop!). The next day I popped in a new tube and this time I was able to get the tire on with relative ease.

The upside to all of these flats is that I’m no longer intimidated by changing a tire! I still hope I don’t have to keep doing it quite so often, however…

And if anyone is wondering, here are a couple of the video resources I used to step me through the process:

A comprehensive step-by-step guide:

For just removing and replacing the rear wheel:

For putting on a tire without levers:

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A week of many activities: bootcamp, kayaking, and more!

I’ve had a pretty busy week in terms of physical activity, so here is a quick recap to spare you many many blog posts!

Monday: To round off the May Kilometer Challenge, my coworker invited several of us at work to an outdoor bootcamp! She arranged with the instructor to have us visit the class for free, which was really amazing. The class is called “Hill Killers Outdoor Bootcamp” and boy, did it live up to its name.

When we arrived, we just had to fill out a little waiver basically saying a doctor hadn’t told us we would die when doing exercise. Then we got down to it! I should mention that I rode my bike from Waterloo to Kitchener, where the class was (the park used to be a garbage dump!). It was only 8km away and I had to get some kilometers in! In retrospect, it might have been a better idea to start with fresh legs…

To start, we did a “warm up”, which consisted of: 50 jumping jacks, ladder agility, 10 push ups, more ladder agility, 10 more push ups, more ladder agility, 10 more push ups, kettlebell walking lunges for about 15m, pull-ups on the soccer posts, “prisoner crossovers” (I think that’s what they are called! Hands behind head, running sideways while crossing your feet over top of each other) to the next soccer posts, more pull ups, more prisoner crossovers…then repeat ALL OF THAT in reverse. Yikes.

I am not so great with coordination, and had never really done ladder agility drills or prisoner crossovers, so I needed explicit directions on what to do, which slowed me right down. I was one of the last to finish. The instructor had stressed at the start that we are not competing with anyone else, but I still felt a bit stressed to be one of the last ones done the warm up. Plus, it completely kicked my butt, as there was no rest between any of the sets.

The rest of the workout involved hill repeats on this GIANT, steep hill (I didn’t take a photo – oops! – but the following is from the Hill Killers Facebook page):

The hills were interspersed with more strength work, mostly on lower body and core. I was absolutely toasted at the end. Then I realized I still needed to drag my butt back home on my bike. Eeek.

So was it a great workout? Definitely. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. To be honest, I’m not convinced the bootcamp structure is right for me. I like more rest in between sets in my strength workouts, and I’m not convinced I can turn off the slight competitive streak in me (for better or for worse). Still, it was fun to try it out, especially with some friends.

Tuesday: I got out for my first real outdoor bike ride in Waterloo. I mapped out a 21km route that took me by a conservation area and through some “country roads” (compared to Toronto anyways). It was enjoyable, but it is definitely strange to be cycling in a city where motorists fully expect most cyclists to be on the sidewalk. The cycling infrastructure here, where it exists, is very hit and miss. I prefer to stick to the roads, but many of them are quite potholed here, and I feel a bit stressed about taking my space when I know motorists aren’t used to bikes on the road. Still, I know the best thing is to act predictably, signal my intentions, and keep my attention on my surroundings. I’ll have to do a bit of sleuthing to find some nice smooth routes.

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Country roads on my bike ride

Wednesday: A leisurely 5k run in honour of Global Running Day!

Thursday: On Thursday morning, Kevin and I headed up to Silent Lake Provincial Park for an extra-long weekend of camping with his parents. When we got there, one of the first things we did after setting up camp was take his parents’ kayaks out for a spin! I’ve been in a kayak a couple of times before, but it’s been a looong time. It was a lot of fun, and harder work than I was expecting. I felt a lot of it in my forearm, which I suspect means I was doing it wrong. Kevin’s dad mentioned a “push/pull” aspect to the paddling stroke, and I think I was more of a “pull/pull” kind of paddler. Still, neither of us tipped over, and we got up close and personal with a very lovely loon.

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That’s a paddlin’!

Friday: Kevin and I ran the Bonnie’s Pond trail, a 3km loop, plus 2km through the campground to get there. The trail was fun but somewhat poorly marked. We lost the blazons a couple of times, oops. Then we ended the run with a jump in the lake.

Saturday: To be honest, this one actually might get its own blog post. We did the 15km trail around Silent Lake and it was tough. It’s probably the most technical trail I’ve run on. Plus the mosquitoes were relentless. I was in a pretty rough place by the end of this. We also ended it with a swim in the lake. Later on in the day we went for another peaceful kayak at the golden hour.

Sunday: It was raining in the morning, so we just packed up camp and headed back to the city. However, the rain cleared up, and our early departure meant I was back in time to play soccer with my favourite Team Nice Friends. Unfortunately, one of our awesome teammates went down with a knee injury, and that took the wind out of our sails a bit. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Laura!

I enjoyed being so active all week, but it was also a lot! So today has been deemed a well-deserved rest day. 🙂