Image via WikipediaThe pushbikes I mentioned in earlier blogs played a very important part in my life having been deprived of one for so long and the fact that they were second hand helped me to understand the workings of them and make me more efficient than most when it came to repairing them.
There was even a national cycling proficiency test that I passed during school hours when the police came and tested the pupils who traveled to school on bikes on their highway code and efficiency on the road. They made a makeshift road and added traffic lights and other obstacles to make it as realistic as possible and studied us as we maneuvered our way round the course giving us points for each correct maneuver or deducted points if we failed to negotiate the course correctly or lost our balance while using hand signals. After the road test we had to answer questions on the highway code and it was all treated seriously just like a driving test. This was in 1963 and I am quite sure that this was the first of its kind in Britain but it went on to become a regular feature in schools after that. I passed with high marks and me and the other pupils that sat the test were presented with a certificate at the prize giving ceremony when school broke up for the summer.
My skills at mending punctures were pretty good too but we were also given a rough lesson in bike repairs by an old teacher (Mr Campbell) during one period when things were winding down for the holidays and one thing that stuck in my mind was when he told us it would only take ten minutes to repair a puncture.
A few weeks after the school started up again I was cycling home for my dinner when suddenly my tyre went flat so not being far from the house I walked the rest of the way home and given that we only had an hours dinner break I thought I would catch a bus back and repair it when I came home in the evening. My dinner wasn't quite ready and while I was sitting waiting I remembered what Mr Campbell said about it only taking ten minutes to mend a puncture so I looked out the repair outfit and quickly went about the repair and once satisfied it was fixed hurriedly shoved the tube back into the tyre, ran the tools around the rim to fix the outer tyre on properly then inflated the tube just in time to sit down to my dinner. Half way through my meal I heard an almighty BANG! and thinking it was my tyre I went to investigate but on examination it appeared to be fine. It wasn't until my dinner was over and I returned to the bike, heading back to school that I noticed a piece of shredded tube sticking out of my tyre, THIS had been the bang but the tyre was still hard????????? As it turned out the tube was stuck fast between the wheel rim and the outer tyre keeping the air trapped inside and the tyre intact so I pondered over fixing it again or chancing that it would hold out until I got back home. I was already late for school by this time so rather that make things worse, knowing I already would have to face the headmaster I decided to chance it. All the hassle between having to walk home part of the way and fixing the puncture had made me about half an hour late, missing most of my first class so the inevitable reasons for my lateness had to be explained to the headmaster.
I stood in front of him with an apologetic look on my face as I explained my dilemma during my dinner break and when he asked me why I was stupid enough to attempt such a task in such a short time poor Mr Campbell took the blame relieving me from returning to class with a stinging hand as the excuse was enough to prevent me getting two of the strap.
Weeeell after all Mr Campbell couldn't deny he told us that it only took ten minutes to repair a puncture and the headmaster couldn't give me the belt on these grounds.........could he?
It should only have taken ten minutes and I have done it in that time (before and after that event) but as the saying goes "more haste less speed" which is very true as I found to my cost.
I still have my cycling proficiency certificate stashed away somewhere and someday it might be worth something it being one of the first.