Yes, I should have known better. A £3.99 hand bike pump from Aldi was never going to be the most reliable piece of kit. It served its purpose a few times, and on the last occasion I even made a mental note that it was dodgy, sporadically leaking air faster than it went in, and needed replacing.
It was never intended to be a long-term solution, just something grabbed while buying a few other bits and pieces of shopping.
But like so many mental notes, it blew away somewhere into the depth of my mind, lost amid thoughts of work strategies, DIY tasks and what to make a small child for tea.
After an frustrating two hour trip home from work on a wet Friday night (all of 8 miles), thanks to an impressively lacerated bike tyre and a pump that refused to do its jobs, I realised I had illustrated perfectly the folly of false economy.
Two hours of my life lost, missing my baby daughter’s bath time after not seeing her for two days, missing an indoor climb and a pint with a mate, and ending up in a foul mood. Was it worth it for the sake of saving £10 or so for something more robust? No.
Thankfully, a fellow cyclist came to the rescue with his CO2 powered Genuine Innovations pump. With Schrader valve converter deployed, in 5 minutes I was on my way, hands resembling a coal miner’s, tired, hungry, chastened and cross, but on my way home none the less.
So thanks to Andy – another wonderful illustration of the kindness of cyclists when finding others in need. It never fails to amaze me how many offers of help you get when you’re at the roadside changing a flat. The other week a GB cycling team car even stopped to offer assistance, them being based nearby at the Velodrome in East Manchester. On that occasion the incessant ringing of my mobile by my wife had brought me to a halt, as I sheepishly explained.
So what lessons hath one learneth from this incident? One, buy a decent bike pump. Secondly, don’t ask a policeman for help fixing a flat. A bobby on a bike passed me as I was pushing my wheels along. He asked if I was okay, and when I asked for a pump, surprisingly he said he didn’t have one. What they do when they have a flat is anyone’s guess. Call out a patrol car I suppose.
Anyhow, taking my queue from my new friend Andy, I’ve gone straight out an invested in a Genuine Innovations high quality hand pump with a CO2 inflator built right in – but with the option of using the manual handle if you run out of gas.
Reasuringly sturdy, alloy and stylish, it has a magnetic closure to keep the barrel locked firmly in place and a hidden container inside the handle containing a Schraeder adapter and two glueless patches. Just brilliant, and it makes me wonder what the hell I was doing before.
Andy also suggested I should think about thicker tyres, and having picked up a number of (seemingly always) back wheel punctures on my trips to and from work, I’ve finally called in the kevlar and gone for some Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700X35C. You only have to look at the Amazon review to see how great these are.
Sure, you have to live with the extra weight, but this is only going to make you fitter in the long run. So here’s to plenty of puncture-free commuting and more time spent bathing babies.