I would be the first to admit I’ve been a bit lax about cycle maintenance, but that’s not why I still have spiked snow tyres on the commuter in May.

The thing is, the traffic free agricultural roads in Germany give a great network for cyclists, but they aren’t cleared or gritted in winter, so I wanted to be sure I had frost proofed transport for work. Temperatures haven’t been below freezing for a while now, so I decided it was time to swap tyres on the commuter. This way I’d have two usable bikes again, which would take the pressure of the Xtracycle which really does need some attention after a long winter.

I expect this will now result in a week of apocalyptic level winter weather in the upper Rhine valley; sorry about that.

So after getting back from work, I dug out the commuter bike, and went to get the tyre levers. These live in the little tool bag which… wasn’t there.

A memory of the tool bag on the touring bike last weekend presented itself for attention; in Stuttgart, 200km away.

I considered the options. I didn’t want to buy yet more tyre levers when I had a tool bag and a drawer full of the things. On the other hand, I did need a second bike, and I wanted to swap the commuter for the touring bike next time I went to Stuttgart, as part of the complex never ending logistical exercise of keeping all the bikes where I and other family members need them. I trundled across the village to the local bike shop on the Xtracycle. They were thankfully open and after the usual discussion (“That’s a long bike” “is it a tandem?” It must be really heavy”) paid for two bright orange tyre levers; the colour may be handy as well, knowing my ability to lose things in a phone box.

Back to the apartment, flipped bike over, removed front wheel. Bike tipped backwards immediately because tyres full of metal spikes are rather heavy. I learn this every year.

I swapped the tyres and pumped them up using touring pump which was fortunately in the Xtracycle, and squelched back to the bike shop on soggy tyres to avail myself of the free track pump outside.

Once the tyres were fully inflated the front brake jammed against the tyre. Having no tools due to the aforementioned inconveniently distant tool bag I disconnected the front brake and rode back very slowly, thankful that I’m in a small, quiet village with lots of back roads.

At the apartment I realigned the brake, noting as I did so that it really needed replacing. There’s always something…