Shipping to
United States
Illustrations by Mr Angelo Trofa

Eleven rain-soaked years as a Glasgow-based cycle messenger might not bring you any amount of financial security, but it certainly teaches you a few invaluable lessons you wouldn't stumble across in your average line of work; mainly, that cycling more than 60 miles a day will bring you the sort of fitness you'll never reach again in your life; that your loins will never quite recover from eight hours on the saddle, that sudden death could be around every slippery corner and lastly, that a puncture is an unwelcome and costly delay to your working day. The latter teaching has had its advantages - even though I gave up the courier game several years back, I can still fix a puncture as if my next pint of beer depended on it. Click through the slides above to see how.

Some Common Mistakes

Make sure you locate and remove the cause of the puncture the first time around. If it's still lodged in the tyre you'll be fixing it again very shortly. If the hole is on the underside of the inner tube then check for a protruding spoke or damaged rim tape.

Messengers from Seattle to Glasgow will tell you how miserable it is to fix a puncture in the rain. Not only does it dampen the height of your mohawk, it means the puncture patch won't stick, so save yourself time by trying to fix things under some shelter.

If there's a small rip in the sidewall of the tyre the tube will bulge through and promptly puncture. You can "bodge" a quick repair using a piece of old tyre or a few layers of gaffer tape on the inside of the tyre (during particularly lucrative phases, I used to line it using a £1 note or a dollar bill, depending on the local currency).

Finally, ensure there is only one puncture (if you're unlucky enough to get one, why not two?). Sometimes you may have a "snakebite" or "pinch flat", caused when the tube is nipped between the rim and an object, leaving two holes next to each other.