As the statewide bicycle ride gears up to leave Sioux City on Sunday, a cycling group plans an event there on Saturday that’s guaranteed to pump up the crowd, leaving no one feeling flat.

It’s called the World Tire Changing Championship.

Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa City-based Iowa Bicycle Coalition, explains how it will work. “We’re going to have five stations with identical wheels, identical tires, identical tubes and identical pumps,” Wyatt says. “Contestants will be able to see how fast they can deflate a tire, remove the tube, put a new tube in and pump it back up.”

There will be categories for youth, first-timers, mechanics, professionals and even blindfolded. “We’re willing to make this interesting,” Wyatt says. “If somebody thinks that they’re that much better, they can do it with a blindfold. We’ll let them give it a try because I think that’s going to be fun.”

Some bicyclists have never had to change a tire, but Wyatt says others have done it dozens, even hundreds of times. “The average person can do it in a few minutes,” Wyatt says. “Tire changing really isn’t that difficult. There’s about nine steps and it’s pretty easy, but I think we can have some really fast people. Some of the mechanics and some of the people that have been doing bicycling for a long time are really talented at this.”

Since more than half of the 25,000-some RAGBRAI riders and support staff are from out-of-state and many from other countries, Wyatt says it should truly be a world championship event.

The event starts at noon on Saturday at the RAGBRAI Expo in Sioux City. The top five fastest participants will battle head-to-head in the championship round at 5 P-M.