Every cyclist needs an LBS. Now I can see the non-cyclists going “L=little, B=black, S= slip, shoes?” No, it’s a Local Bike Shop.

Mine, like many, is run by its owner, pictured here, and we’ve become good friends over the past year or so. I pop into his shop most weeks to while away an hour or so conversing in English, for his benefit not mine. In return, he imparts some of his encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling – fair trade.

Now, I know my limitations and my bike has only to make the slightest unusual noise and I’m straight down to my LBS to get it sorted. I wouldn’t want you to think I’m either clueless or helpless, but my bike deserves the best. I limit myself to keeping it spotlessly clean, tyres at the correct pressure and chain suitably lubricated. I can deal with a puncture, but fortunately have never been called upon to do so. Whenever it’s happened there’s always been someone around who can do it so much quicker and better than me.

Whenever I pass another cyclist in distress I always enquire if they need my assistance. They do not. However, not long after my husband allowed me to go solo, I saw an elderly gentleman struggling to replace his inner tube. I hopped off my bike and went to his assistance. The poor chap looked so mortified that a woman had come to his rescue until I pointed out I wasn’t going to actually do anything. No, the next bloke to come round the corner was going to do it.

I sent him off with my bike to sit on a nearby bench and I waited. No more than thirty seconds later, six cyclists came around the corner, halted, leapt off their bikes and proceeded to sort out the puncture in record time. As they took their leave, one of the sextet gave me back the bike. He looked at me and then looked at the bike and said “This isn’t your bike”. “Well spotted”, I replied, giving him one of my megawatt smiles. “It belongs to the old chap on the bench. No one stopped to help him, so I just gave him a helping hand. But I have never, ever had to change a tyre because Frenchmen are so charming and chivalrous.”

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