Seven Things That Can Go Wrong on a Bike—And How to Fix ‘Em!

Posted 05/11/15 by Katie Harris in Trail Use

Photo by Mark Wilkinson

RTC is pleased to present this special "How-To" in honor of Bike Month!

We’ve all had those days where things just didn’t go as planned. Your water heater failed mid-shower, your roommate drank the last of your milk, and you can’t find a pair of socks that match. And that was before you even left the house.

Unfortunately, these unlucky instances can strike when you’re on your bike, too. But while some things are simply up to fate to resolve, others are under our control! Here are (unlucky number) seven things that can go wrong on a bike ride—and some ways to cope with them.

1Getting a Flat Tire

Yeah, we know. They suck. But they’re a rite of passage, and you shouldn’t let the risk of getting a flat keep you from getting on your bike.

  • Preventable? To some extent, yes! Be sure to pump up your tires to the proper level of inflation (check the sidewall of your tire for reference), and consider investing in puncture-resistant tires.
  • And if it happens? Your best weapons against a flat tire are a patch kit, tire levers and a hand pump. If you want to learn how to fix a flat, YouTube is a great option, or take a class through a local shop or bike advocacy group.

2Running Out of “Gas”

You’re on a long ride, cruising along…on top of the world. Then suddenly, you hit a wall. Bad news; you “bonked.” This is the term that athletes use for a blood sugar crash, and they can hit—HARD.

  • Preventable? Yes! Carry food with you on your trail adventure, especially if you know you’ll be out there for a long day.
  • And if it happens? Take a break, eat a snack, drink some water, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t worry; you’ll be back in good form in a few minutes.
Photo by Dave Crosby

3Getting Lost

“Trust me, I know where we’re going! I just don’t know where we ARE…”  

  • Preventable? Yes! Use RTC’s trail-finder resource TrailLink.com for detailed routes, maps and descriptions of trails across the country. Stay on the trail if you’re unsure of where you are, take note of major intersections or turn-offs, and reference your map frequently if you’re unfamiliar with the area.
  • And if it happens? Don’t panic. Assess how off course you are, and discuss with your fellow riders the best option for getting back on it. Sometimes, it means back-tracking. Other times, the best option is simply staying put. Reference your map, use your common sense, and get back on course. Don’t hesitate to chat with folks on the trail, either! Sometimes the best antidote to getting lost is a friendly local who knows where they’re headed.

4Having Your Bike Stolen

Anyone who has fallen victim to a bike snatching can verify: A little piece of your heart is lost when your favorite two-wheeled ride disappears.

  • Preventable? Using a sturdy lock (and locking your bike correctly!) is a good bet against bike theft, but it’s not always enough. Unfortunately, bike thieves are quite good at what they do, so consider registering your bicycle with the National Bike Registry. At the very least, be sure to write down your bike’s serial number.
  • And if it happens? Take a deep breath. (Note: You’re absolutely allowed to shed a tear or two.) Report the theft to the police. Don’t under estimate help from social media, and keep your eyes peeled.

5Losing Daylight

You can have too much of a good thing, and a great ride can turn south pretty fast if the sun sets before you’re finished.

  • Preventable? Usually, yes. Be sure to keep your eye on the time, and if your voyage is an out-and-back, note how long the “out” portion takes. Leave enough time for minor setbacks, and remember that you might be more tired (and therefore, slower) on the way back.
  • And if it happens? I hope you brought your bike lights! Throw on an extra layer, put your head down, and continue on home.
Photo by Jana Kriz (beyondhue)

6Getting Stuck in the Rain

Mother Nature doesn’t have to check with our ride schedules before she does her thing.

  • Preventable? Not 100 percent of the time. Well, you could stay squirreled away in your house forever, but where’s the fun in that?
  • And if it happens? Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a handy how-to guide for you! The main takeaways include wearing proper waterproof gear, slowing your speed and readjusting your attitude.

7Not Knowing Where to Ride

Spring is here, your bike is tuned up, and you’re ready to hit the trail! But where do you go?

  • Preventable? Definitely! Visit TrailLink.com, and search for trails in your region.
  • And if it happens? It won’t! With TrailLink’s apps for iPhone and Android, you can access the trail database wherever you can use your mobile device. How cool is that?

Whether it’s a flat tire or a rain storm, don’t let the threat of misfortune keep you from riding. See you on the trail!

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