Back at work this week. I’m still not sure how I managed to get this job but I’m not complaining. For those not taking notes, I work in a bike shop partially staffed by people with various difficulties. We get bikes as donations, from house clearances, and from several local waste disposal centres, so you never know what you are getting; it could be a barely ridden expensive mountain bike, or or a rusty old clunker with all kinds of hidden nastiness under the grime.

My first bike this week looked like it should be simple enough; a mid-range city bike in good condition. The “to do” list included changing the brake blocks front and rear, pumping up the tyres and turning the rear tyre the correct way around.

The front brake was lopsided, a turn of the wheel revealed that the wheel had so much buckle it could be a pair of boots. It took a long time and some… um, commentary, until I managed to get it to submit to laws of physics so I could reset the brakes.

Then I pumped up the tyre; the inner tube exploded. Oh dear, I said, or words to that effect… Dropped wheel, looked for new inner tube with the same valve, checked wheel and tyre, fitted tube, pumped; bang. On inspection both had popped on a seam on the inside of the tube. This has happened before so it could be the trouble was the batch of inner tunes.

Okay then, different tubes, but that would mean a different valve type, so I’d have to change the back wheel to match; not the end of the world as I needed to swap the tyre. Found a pair of car valve tubes, and to be on the safe side, some rim tape. Mount tube, mount tyre, wheel back on.

Go to back wheel; it’s a hub gear system, meaning the gears are hidden away in a big cylinder around the axle.. Hub gears are great when they work; Getting them to work can be a right fiddle. Unscrew bolts, drop innards of Sram on floor, retrieve, put in tray.

On cue I get a call from the sales team: a customer has a question they can’t answer. to till and back.

Remove tyre from wheel, swap inner tube, wheel back in droppers, pulling to tension chain with some difficulty, phone rings, It’s my colleague at the till again.

Wheel back on floor, go and sort customer out, back to wheel. Beginning to feel like Basil Fawlty.

Wheels on, brakes set, and wonder of wonders I haven’t lost any of the bits. Time for a test ride.

On cue it starts to rain, very heavily.

Test ride delayed to tomorrow; there’s plenty of other things to do…