Do you know how to change a flat?
I was out on a long training ride with a friend of mine today in preparation for Ironman Kansas 70.3. We were enjoying the sun and warm weather, which has been staying away from Colorado this spring. Probably about 3 miles away from finishing the ride, I heard the thud-thud-thud coming from my rear tire. I looked down and sure enough, my rear tire had gone flat.
Fortunately right up ahead was this nice wide sidewalk in the center of a round-about. I pulled off and got to work. This reminded me that unlike pro cyclists with a support vehicle to put on a new wheel when they flat, all triathletes need to be self-sufficient in a race if you are to get a flat during the race. If you don’t know how to change a tire on your own (and efficiently) then now is the time to practice. Many bike shops have basic maintenance classes and can show you how. But here are the basic steps I went through:
- Pull off the road on to a safe location
- Since it was a rear flat, make sure I’m in a small cog on the cassette.
- Open lever, release brake and remove rear tire from bike
- Get out tire levers, spare tube, CO2
- Inspect tire for objects that might cause the flat (none found)
- Release any remaining air and then use tire lever to remove one edge of the tire from the rim
- Pull out the tube and inspect
- Inspect the tire one more time for any potential flat causing object.
- Take new tube and inflate slightly (can blow into the tube gently) so it’s not so floppy.
- Put the new tube on the wheel, valve stem goes in first.
- Put the tire back on the rim…since I only pulled off one side, I just had to put the one side back on.
- Inspect to make sure the tire isn’t pinched anywhere
- Inflate tire with CO2…I think that took less than 5 seconds!
- Put the wheel back on the bike – I decided to flip my bike over for this so I took off my aero drink. It’s easier to get the chain in the right place if it’s on that smallest cog.
- Check to make sure everything was in place and close the brake.
- Put away the spare tube, empty CO2, and tire levers (in a race, make sure you take everything with you – you don’t want to be penalized for equipment abandonment!)
- Make sure brake wasn’t rubbing – and off I went!
It seems like a lot of steps, but if you practice them, it should just take a few minutes to change a flat.