If you cycle long enough then you’ll get a puncture sooner or later. Hopefully it will be in training, but sods law says it will be in your ‘A’ race. If that’s a sprint then unfortunately your going to struggle to regain the places, but in a middle or long distance race then with a bit of preparation you shouldn’t lose out too much.
How do I avoid Punctures?
1) Buy some decent tyres and use them a couple of times before the race. I used Vittoria Corsa’s for IMA last year and in training since without a problem. Others rate the Michelin Pro Race highly (I found I punctured loads with these, Paisley has been using them for years without a problem.
2) Keep the tyre pressure high - 100psi is about right. This reduces the likelihood of punctures
3) Check the tyres before each race. GLass can get burried in the rubber and although it won’t puncture straight away with time it burrows its way through. Pull it out before it can get through.
4) You can add a barier strip inside the tyre. Personally I don’t use these as dcent tyres have a similar strip built in and it adds weight, but it’s an option.
What if I do get a puncture?
1) Make sure you carry at least one tube and a puncture kit just incase you get multiple punctures on a HIM.
2) Practice at home in the dry and warm. Just take the tyre off, swap the tube and tyre back on. This has the advantage of stretching the tyre too so that it is easier.
3) Don’t rush it in a race, you’ll pinch the tube and end up having to wait for the glue to dry
4) Use CO2. Minipumps are good as an emergency backup, but to get sufficient pressure you need co2. Practice with a few and see how much pressure each cartridge gives in your tyres / tubes.
5) Get some good levers. The most expensive are not the best. I found the Park tools ones too thick , and use some freebie ones off an MTB magazine I think. They’re cheap though, so if yours aren’t easy to use then spend another £5 and get some more. I’d suggest that having 3 levers is the fastest way, although you can do it with one or two if you really need to.