This evening I headed over to the Austin Yellow Bike Project again. After all the pucking functures of innertubes on my bikes lately, and needing to be frugal, I decided to save money on buying new ones when the ones I had were perfectly good, except for the holes. Finally the weather has turned and we got back into the 60’s, which is really refreshing to we Texans used to 90 degree days and more. It was a delicious temperature to bike in, although only about 4 miles. And since the shop is a big warehouse, it’s good wrenchin’ weathah, to borrow a turn of phrase from my Vermonter friends.
A Bike Shop for All
I was greeted by familiar friendly faces and some new ones, too. Christina, Molly, Rob all helped with some advice. Juan, Maddie and Elyssa were also nice and helpful. Even as an irregular shop user, I find it helpful to go for a refresher and to learn new things.
The vibe of the shop is pretty Austin. You see all types, and all are welcome. AYBP is a great resource for all kinds of people. A group of deaf students was there on a field trip. Alejandro was there working on his Earn a Bike hours. (I was doing that, until I won the Fairdale.) Maddie is volunteering to become a coordinator, despite already being an experienced mechanic from a similar shop in Arizona. Elyssa is now a coordinator apprentice, so still learning herself.
I also met Chandler, a student at the University of Texas, who is in the Texas 4000 program. He’ll bike about 5,000 miles in 70 days to Alaska next year, and raise about as much in dollars for cancer treatment and research. Jose from Puerto Rico was working on a bike next to me. He listened in as I talked with Maddie about the Bikes Across Borders program. I had wondered about doing it this past May but wasn’t able to. Next year I may not be able to get away either. But it sounds fun. Bike to Mexico, donate a bike, and return by bus.
The shop is in a big warehouse, which is full of bikes. There’s always some music playing, and often it’s new to me. Parts and things are strewn across a table. Old bike posters line the bathroom walls. If you need to buy a used part, you can dig through the bins of donated stuff until you find something. They sell new lights, tubes and other things, and have mechanics on staff during the day during retail hours. I got a sticker.
Flats Are Where It’s At
As for my flat tires, I recently wrote about them in this blog post. Maybe it was just my turn and my luck had run out, or there’s just more crap in the roads, or my rim strip was causing problems. Whatever the reason, flat tires are a fact of life for bicyclists. Unless you take extreme and expensive measures like going tubeless, buying goo-filled tires, or other fixes, you’re still going to need to know how to fix your tires if you’re out on a ride withotu a new replacement tube.
The steps are not complicated, but they’re not always easy, either. I messed up the first and third attempts and was successful on the second and fourth. Batting .500 ain’t bad!
- Identify hole (using water dunk if needed) and assess if it’s too big to patch or not.
- Circle with silver marker.
- Prepare damaged tube with sandpaper larger than the size of the patch.
- Apply rubber cement or other epoxy in a thin layer; allow to dry for at least 10′.
- Carefully peel patch off the backing without letting it touch your hands.
- Affix over hole and flatten with thumb, tire level or other item.
- Allow to set a couple of minutes, peel off backing and inflate tube.
- Put in water to test for leaks; if any are found, remove patch and start again.
- If successful, store tube in your bike pouch as a back-up or use as needed.
- Try to avoid riding over glass and other items that might give you more flats.
That’s it! You may wish to consider investing in Gatorskin or other puncture resistant tires. Or try the special rim liners or puncture blockers and so on. But when you get a flat, now you know what to do. If you’re in Austin, check out the Yellow Bike Project.
If not, do you have a similar community effort in your town?
If so, what’s it like?
How is it similar or different?
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