Ragtime Cyclist column


As a man who is mildly obsessed with cycling in all its forms, it was natural that as soon as my eldest boy (aged three) had mastered the basics of balance, I should buy him his first bike. He took to it with gusto.

But it wasn’t long before that first bike led to a few other firsts; first gashed knee as he over-balanced on a tarmac path and, last week, with a sudden whooossshhh and a wobble to a standstill, his first puncture.

Great, I thought, I will teach him a skill for life: how to mend a puncture.

So we got to work. The tools for the job were lined up neatly; wheel spanner, tyre levers, puncture repair kit, at which point the boy takes a shine to the bike pump.

‘I’ll do the pumping daddy’, he says.

‘Is it time to pump yet daddy?’

‘While you’re doing that, I’ll just pump the curtains, ok daddy?’

So, I fixed the puncture, while the boy danced around the house and pumped up the furniture, the fixtures and the fittings.

At which point he was bored with pumping, and left me to pump air into the now functioning inner tube.

If nothing else, he is now fully up to speed with the pump, and the pumping process.

Perhaps next time, we will move onto a different item in the puncture repair kit and try and master that.

Although, if he goes to work on the house with glue, chalk, sandpaper and little rubber patches, there may be consequences.

But sooner than we thought, the very next day in fact, puncture number two occurred.

‘Right son, let’s get that fixed eh?’ I said, and the boy seems keen.

I prised the tyre away from the rim and begin to search for the offending rip in the inner tube.

The boy peered over my shoulder in the time-honoured fashion, absorbing the technique.

With puncture located I prepared the rubber with sandpaper, and applied a film of glue to the tube, ready for the patch.

‘Hang on’, I thought, and looked up. I hadn’t noticed the boy wander off; I could hear him in the other room, under the dining table, pumping up the table legs.

I think we’re still on the pump.