Today was a very easy day of 53 miles and 1,400 vertical feet. Tommorow is a long day of 97 miles, but the reason not to have two days of approximately 75 miles each is simple: there really is no place to stay, so here we are.

Since we were all finished relatively early, Mike, the tour leader did a clinic on how to fix a flat tire. Clearly everybody on this trip has changed a lot of flat tires. But the clinic lasted nearly 90 minutes and we were all attentive and not bored. Mike is able to change a tire from start to finish in about 49 seconds. I think I probably have taken up to 10 minutes. Other than the inconvenience to other riders that you might riding with who are waiting for you, even by yourself in the cold, or rain, or even blistering sun, the difference of minutes is, well, maybe not life or death, but is still important! You don’t know what you don’t know until you spend 90 minutes in a clinic…

I learned:
–On a Shimano derailer like mine, putting the chain on the smallest cog on the cassette will literally make the rear wheel pop off once the quick release is popped.
–Put the wheel back on the same way, and you can theoretically not get any chain grease on your hands, which makes you look very cool, never mind not having annoying grease on your hands.
–Do not align quick release levers with the forks as some bikers do to try and look neater. They will engage past the fork, and a not fully engaged quick release could lead to the wheel falling off.
–AAYTLWYVS (Always align your tire with your valve stem). This is because when you are repairing a flat tire you need to locate the puncture in the tube. If you inflate the tube and measure the distance from the stem you know where the flat occurred on the tire, and can try to eliminate a second flat from the same problem. I will never be able to look at a misaligned tire on a bike again without thinking “rookie rider”. Also, the tire label is often used by the manufacturer to show “uni-direction,” i.e. the tread works best if the label is placed on the “drive side” on the bike.
–The hole in the tube can tell you what caused the problem. A true hole means that the tire has a cut and need a boot (my issue on Day 5). Otherwise the new tube will inflate back through the hole and go flat almost immediately.
–A boot can be jury rigged with a dollar bill (a $20 bill works better), a power bar wrapper, or cutting off some electrical tape used to wrap the ends of handle bar tape. Don’t use a tube patch. They are not strong enough. You can buy a boot kit in a bike shop, though I had never had one before. I tried to buy one in Boise and the very big bike shop there did not carry them. I don’t know why not.
–A pinch flat can be caused by improperly seating the tube back in the tire when repairing, in which case the new flat will have a long slit along the side.
–A pinch flat caused by a rock will probably have snakebite marks on the tube.
–Pinch flats are sort of a good thing because they mean that the problem has been identified and solved with putting in a new tube. Any other sort of flat tube probably means that something stuck through the tire–a thorn, a piece of glass, etc. This has to be found and removed. Unless you solve the question of what caused the flat you are setting yourself up for another flat.
–Always inflate the tube slightly before replacing the tire back on the rim. This helps prevent pinch flats.

Other techniques included how to get the tire off and on without tire levers (those plastic thingies that most people use to remove tire from the rim). Being able to master this makes you look super cool when witnessed by others. Also, unpack new spare tubes and rub with talcum powder, remove any excess air, and wrap in a small cloth. The cloth prevents the tube from getting punctured in the saddle bag and also can be used to clean hands if they get greasy.

There was even more, but I’m trying to keep this concise in hopes that some of this is actually being passed on.

We are having another clinic later this week on drivetrain maintenance. I like being more fluent in bicycle mechanics.

Tire repair clinic