In any social group of cyclists there is often one of us who has an innate, even impressive ability to seek out thorns, nails, bits of broken glass, and anything else with the potential to pierce both tyre and inner tube.
Close your eyes and picture in your mind the last time you went out for a ride with this friend – what do you see?
A mental image of an upturned bike, your mate scrabbling in the dirt, tyre leavers in hand, and yet another failed inner tube bundled into his jersey pocket.
If you go for a ride of, say, 60 miles, this is plenty of time and distance for your friend to easily achieve two or three punctures, and it can be funny; watching him curse and struggle, criticising his puncture repair technique, threatening to leave him alone to fend for himself – but eventually, inevitably, you get involved.
If only to make sure the two of you manage to finish your ride in daylight.
By puncture number three you find yourself getting stuck in and helping, which leaves you – the smug cyclist capable of maintaining acceptable air pressure in your tyres all day long – with oily, mucky hands.
There are worse mechanical failures to suffer, of course – a snapped chain many miles from home is never fun – but on a cold wet day the stop/start puncture parade becomes a little tedious.
Of course, it’s only bad luck – the gods of cycling have singled him out for special attention – but the only natural response to all this is for you to mock him, call into question his ability to perform the most basic task in bike maintenance, and even his right to call himself a cyclist.
Despite the fact that, due to constant repetition, he is now a bona fide expert in the art of puncture repair.
But don’t push your luck.
There will come a time when the gods will deal you a run of bad luck…and you might need his help.
(Image: Bjorn Appel – Wikimedia Commons)