Livable Streets Advisory Board News

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No judgment. After classes on maintenance, Lee’s Summit rider can fix a flat tire

by Michael Vestweber (Member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board)

Last year, I joined Cycling Kansas City’s “RiDE” program, which included riding techniques and a maintenance workshop. The workshop was a one-night class where volunteers taught us maintenance, including how to change a tire. The class had a hands-on session on changing a tire, but I did not participate. Instead, I pretended I knew the basics of maintenance so my peers would not judge me. I watched as another participant eagerly volunteered to change the tire.

The following weekend, a group ride was scheduled with an instructor from the class. The instructor told the group that I could repair a flat tire if needed. Having not participated in the hands-on tire repair during the prior week’s workshop, I was not prepared to help my fellow riders. I held my breath as we started out on the group ride, hoping no one would need my help. Midway through the ride, I heard a hissing sound behind me and my heart sank. The group turned around and by the time we reached the rider with the flat tire they had the tire off and were in the process of changing the tubing. I was off the hook and took a sigh of relief.

In the spring, I participated in Trek Bicycling’s “Ride and Wrench” series. The first month we biked an eight-mile loop around Lee’s Summit, followed by a session on how to change a tire. When the instructor asked if anyone would like to participate in a hands-on tutorial I didn’t volunteer. I told the instructor I wasn’t worried about a flat tire because my tires were tubeless. The instructor informed me that even tubeless tires can become flat and I would actually need to repair the tire with a tube. I begrudgingly participated in the hands-on session. I had no more excuses, but the instructor was understanding and helped teach me how to fix a flat tire. It gave me the confidence I needed. What I learned and my advice to readers is to get to know your bicycle through maintenance because you never know what might happen on a ride. Look to local bike shops and learn about their bicycle maintenance programs. I continue to participate in Trek Bicycling’s monthly ride and look forward to learning more. If you love to bike ride, be prepared to fix a flat tire. I know I can.