Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Testing a puncture repair

16th December 2009

Last Saturday, I had designs on going further afield for a day away but they didn’t happen. That allowed some time to address something that has been looking back at me reprovingly for a while: a flat front tyre on my bike. The cause was a long thorn (around a centimetre or so in length) that had inveigled itself into the tyre to hole the inner tube. It illustrates the trouble with country cycling in the autumn months when many a hedgerow custodian is cutting it down to size after the summer, littering the road with the sorts of things that penetrate even thick mountain bike tyres. Thinner racing bicycle equivalents must be giving grief then.

For whatever reason, the repairing of punctures is a task that causes me to procrastinate. While it is true to say that various attempts at the chore have ended up being so messy as to necessitate the buying of new tubes and tyres, I should be a bit more competent at it these days but it’s never a thing to go rushing. In fact, I find that it’s undoubtedly the kind of activity for which the saying about haste slowing down speed is most apt.

Once that front wheel was put back together again and the tyre well inflated with a double-barrel foot pump (possibly meant for car tyres really but it does the job so well for my tyres that it must put a stop to braces of punctures like those that blighted my innings with a Carlton racer) from Halfords, it was time for some road testing. By the time that I was ready to leave the house, the sun had got to hiding behind big wads of clouds, but my mind was decided on a departure, even one that might have involved walking a bicycle home after a failed repair.

For the jaunt, I followed a usual route of mine that goes around by places such as Gawsworth, North Rode and Bosley, though without actually going through any of these places. The fact that I hadn’t been out for more than a month was brought home to me by the absence of leaves on next to every tree, hedge and bush. Then there were all the well manicured hedges with their reminders of thorns sprayed all over a road after a hedge cutter. What was also evident was how well November’s tempests had swept away any of that. It’s amazing where fixing a puncture can send your thoughts.

Broadcar Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

As Croker Hill and its radio tower loomed ever larger in my sights, both were catching more and more of the sun and much more than anywhere else. It looked like the sun was finding a momentary hole in the clouds, but there was a bigger clearance to come from the east. That was to be the lure and reward for my diverting away from the A523 and into nearby hills. The initial reasoning might have been the avoidance of football traffic around Moss Rose, but that doesn’t explain why I would go around by Coalpit Lane, Broadcar Road and Old Buxton Road. All of this may have been on a SUSTRANS cycle route but I’d advise of the need for strong legs and decent physical fitness before giving this one a try. Seeing the steepness of the gradients, I chose to walk them with breaks for photographic capture of the by now well lit surroundings. For that, I should have had fully charged batteries rather than resorting to sticking dying ones in pockets to make an exposure or two. Even so, I came away with enough images to ward off any recourse to self reproach.

After that short satisfying blast of hill country, it was mostly downhill until I got home with tyres still inflated and untroubled by an underpass littered with broken beer bottles; carriage of one’s means of travel was the cure for that and the council has been informed of the state of the footway. Puncture repair testing was successful and a good spell of fresh air was enjoyed too without my bringing more trouble home with me in the form of new punctures. There are some things that really don’t deserve the practice.

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