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Practicing the the technical skills

By the fourth or fifth time, it was getting monotonous. But that's what repetition is supposed to bring, I suppose, particularly when the skill is becoming a bit easier.

With the Muskoka 70.3 race a few weeks away, preparation isn't just about getting in swims, bikes and runs.

It's also about practicing for anything that can happen on race day.

Like a flat tire.

The rules of triathlon include a big stress on not receiving outside assistance. In simple words, anyone involved with the race can help -- other races, officials, volunteers -- but anyone spectating or cheering you on can not. So your mother can't hand you a new bottle of gatorade and your father can't pull over and help you change a flat tire.

Granted, much like the famous line from A Street Car Named Desire, I have often relied on the kindness of strangers. Many times fellow racers will pull over and help others who are having mechanical bike issues. It's part of the beauty of the sport, the community that wants everyone to do his or her best.

But it helps if you can help yourself.

And so, the past few weeks my friend and I have been practicing changing a flat tire.

The principles are rather easy, as explained in the following video from the guys at Performance Bikes:

But knowledge and practice can be two different things.

I've had numerous guys at bike shops and friends go through the finer points of changing a flat tire. I've even practiced with them once or twice.

But until I started trying to do it regularly, it was like trying to remember how to find the area of a parallelogram -- knowledge that was in my brain somewhere but dusty and incomplete.

The tire change can be slightly daunting. In my case, it was a fear of doing some serious damage to my bike along with the fear of failure. Sometimes you can throw in the fear of looking stupid for good measure.

Point is, the fear would always hold me back unless I kept practicing.

Each time got a bit easier. Each time came with a bit more confidence.

Each time came with a bit more patience.

The practicing continues. Yesterday were back tire repetitions. Instead of changing the tire, the practice was taking the back wheel on and off, getting the alignment between the brake pad right and the chain back on correctly.

Next up, more work with CO2 cartridges which can be tricky to use to inflate a tire out on a course (or even a leisurely Sunday bike ride).

Just like each time tackling hill workouts or swim intervals brings increased strength and confidence, so too does rehearsing the mechanical skills.

Because each time I realize, there is one less thing I can not do.

--- Amy Moritz
Follow Journey to the Finish Line on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amymoritz

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