A few days ago I found that I had a leak in my rear tire. Today, I managed to pop off my wheel and take care of it. I've now patched this tube four times. And I'm going to keep trying to patch it instead of replace it.
This may appear to be bizarre behaviour for someone who has a bike shop two minutes away (as well as probably one or two spare tubes lying around). But, I choose to try and patch my tubes as frequently as I can, and I do this because of a story I heard several years ago.
Sometime in 2019, I took a bike-mechanic course at a local technical school. The instructor was experienced and a great teacher. During one of our lessons, he told a story of how he would run bike mechanic workshops in Cuba, and how people would come to the workshop with tubes that had been patched 20 or 25 times. Unwittingly, I had asked why, and he had said that there just simply weren't supplies to replace tubes on a whim.
Ah, so sheltered, me. But not only sheltered—inspired.
Since hearing that story, any flat I get is an opportunity to get better at taking the inner tube out of the tire, patching it myself, putting it back in, and waiting for it to inevitably happen again. Of course, someday there will be a hole too big to be patched. This time 'round, the hole was from where a previous patch was. So I imagine it's only a matter of time before it fails as well. And to be honest, I don't think I did the best job of it.
I’m still working to unlearn the belief that I can’t fix things and that I’m not handy. I’m still hesitant around certain parts of my bike I don’t understand or have had bad luck with trying to fix in the past (derailleurs, bottom brackets). But, things do get easier, slowly. At one point, getting a tire back onto a rim was nigh impossible. Now it’s just a minor struggle most times.
But back to this little puncture. This time around, I couldn't spot the leak or feel it on my lip (apparently, that’s a technique). So, remembering another tip from my instructor, I drew a bath and I tossed the tube in there to find it. This worked marvellously—soon small bubbles were spiralling up out of the previous patch.
I dried the tube off, slathered some sticky goop (I believe that’s the technical term?) on the hole and then stuck the patch on. I certainly do not understand the chemistry of how I can apply an adhesive, let it dry, and then still put a patch on and somehow they stick together (isn’t glue sticky when it’s wet?)?. Magic.
But, I did it and felt a little more resourceful and less wasteful for it. Like so many other DIY things, fixing the thing is rewarding when you could have moneyed your way out of the problem.
Today made for a great ride. I was riding on the success of my small repair, as well as delivering some baked goods to a friend and petting their cat. The weather was about as good as it could be in November and I enjoyed the striking blue of the lake against the dull grass and walkways.