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We all need air

time trials

Perhaps the most important part of a bike ride is.......Air."

  • Air is like freedom- when you have it – you don't notice it." (Boris Yeltsin)
  • Air and the innertube, a ring of rubber.
  • A soft pliable doughnut -whenfull of air, protected by a tyre.
  • A small volume of air inflated to a high pressure.
  • And on that air we ride.

As the innertube inflates, the tube gets thinner. It is porous and like a party balloon loses air. Small molecules permeate the rubber and so we need to replace them.

Replace it with CO2 and as the molecules are now smaller it may leak even more. Butyl innertubes are more penetrable than latex – the latter is more porous and also more puncture resistant, (but beware, just as the condom, they can leak, apparently there is a 2-3 % chance – perhaps with greater implications!)

Too much air and you may slow down as you bounce and vibrate over the rough surface. Too little air and you may also slow down. But when the air has gone, and the innertube is flat, we despair – but McDonald suggests that rather than a curse, we should regard a puncture as part of the ride, a pause and a chance to review our progress.

The ride, the repair, the turning wheel all give us time to reflect – we have freedom to discover.
To travel, to independently experience the elements. Riding through our own reality. We breathe in air in time with our cadence, our speed relative to the rotation of the wheel.

A hypnotic tempo, breath uniting the mind, stimulating our body and thus the brain. Like people, no two rides are the same. There is a relationship to the ever changing scene. Cycling allows us to understand nature.

Regardless of age we can be proud of our achievement, a ride orcourse completed – perhaps the satisfaction of a hill climbed, transported by our own effort. The feeling of power as those cranks are turned.

On our own, or in communion with the group with whom we ride – give thanks to the innertube and the air it contains- no matter how expensive the bike – air comes free!!

Ride out, put air into your innertubes and then let air blow in your face!

"I just put my feet in the air and move them around." Fred Astaire

Inspired by "Mind is the Ride"...Jet McDonald. Published by Unbound.

Mike Cotgreave of Manchester and District Cycling Time Trials

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