Princess of the puncture? - Total Women's Cycling

Latest news, reviews and features for women who like to ride.



Princess of the puncture?

“But don’t tell the boys you can do this…” 
Image by by Conor Lawless via Flickr

The time has come to address the inner tube issue, says Adele Mitchell

Confession: despite having been a mountain biker for nearly ten years, I’m ashamed to admit that I have never known how to change an inner tube. I have no good reason for this: I guess it was just never on my things-girls-do agenda.

Too often I’ve got my partner to fix my bike for me or, on the trail, waited for the next passing rider (a man, more often than not) to help me out. It is very good of them to stop and I can’t say thank you enough – but my lack of technical ability and resulting utter helplessness is both deeply embarrassing and a ruined ride waiting to happen. And not just for the person who stops to help!

As it’s the technical problem most likely to arise on a ride, not being able to fix a flattie means that I am limited on how far I can ride on my own.

I know this because I had a pinch flat a while back that meant I had to run home, with my bike at my side, in order to make the school run on time. Not so much fun in shoes with cleats.

Image by Phil and Pam via flckr

So I persuaded my Other Half to tell me what to do and was pleasantly surprised that the process of learning to change an inner tube and then practicing a couple of times took under an hour.

Imagine: freedom, self-respect and technical know how – and all done and dusted in the time it takes to watch one episode of Take Me Out.

I feared that I might forget what to do but last week, while out riding with a friend, she got a puncture. A flurry of tyre levers, inner tubes and a pump later and the bike was back on two wheels, ready to go.

We actually punched the air and high-fived each other with empowered glee. I even posted a tweet about it that inspired some other women to have a go at learning what to do.

Image by Daveybot via Flickr

However not everyone was so ecstatic. I expected the guys I know and who ride to slap me on the back (gently, seeing as I’m a lady) and congratulate me on no longer being 100percent rubbish at stuff involving bike bits and bobs.

But no. Almost without exception the response was something akin to ‘So you don’t need a knight in muddy lycra anymore?’ accompanied by an expression best described as ‘quietly hurt’.

So apologies to menfolk for starting this quiet revolution that may lessen their opportunities to rescue fair damsels in distress (or at least those with punctures).

However they can take heart: most of us are still averse to putting up shelves and we’re not mad on emptying the kitchen bin either so they’re not redundant just yet.


Do punctures with style! This fabulous puncture repair kit purse (£24.99) from Michaux Club comes complete with essential puncture repair tools. It’s available in tan, black or gold leather and doubles as a make up purse. What’s not to love?

Fashion and beauty writer and mountain biker, Adele Mitchell writes about style and cycling – and sometimes both at once – at Found, Beautiful.


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.