By Andrew Reimann

Necessary Skills for Not Getting Stranded While Riding

No one likes a ride that becomes ruined due to a mechanical. Group rides have always been a popular way to get out on a bike, not just because of the social nature of them, but typically, a veteran of bike mechanics is often present in a group, willing to lend his or her knowledge in order to help fix a mishap.

However, riders shouldn't let the chance of getting out on an adventure pass them by just because they can't find a large group to ride with. Learning the essential skills of fixing the bike on the side of the road are not difficult with the aid of a local bike shop's clinic. Here are some of the essentials that you should expect to learn at such a clinic, in order of importance:

1) Knowing when to ride a bike cautiously vs. calling for a ride home. Surprised that fixing a flat tire isn't first on this list? Don't be. The most important skill a rider can learn is not a mechanical act, but a method of observation. "Is that a crack in the bike's clear coat, or is the frame damaged?"; "Should I ride home with the bike chattering like this?"; and "Will the rim hold up if I ride on it with a flat tire?" are just examples of questions that a well-run clinic will address right off the bat.

2) Checking the quick release and bolts on the bike and securely fastening them. Nothing ruins a season, let alone a ride, more than a loose stem, saddle, handlebars or wheel coming undone or drastically changing position mid-way through a ride. Learning the cues of a loose component, and how to fix it, it a must-know for all riders out on a ride without a bike shop in sight.

3) Discovering what caused a flat and fixing the tube. Knowing how to replace your inner tube is good, but knowing what caused the flat in the first place is the other half of the battle. Every flat has a lesson: Did the tube suffer a pinch flat? Did it blow out? Was there a puncture in the tire? Learning to know the difference can not only help you perfect tire pressure and setting a tire bead correctly, but it can also prevent you from sticking an inner tube into a tire that still has glass embedded in it.

4) Minor truing of wheels and adjusting derailleurs. While it might not be as threatening as a loose front wheel, the sounds of a skipping chain and a rubbing wheel can often be irritating to others and can ruin the fun pleasure of your own ride. Knowing how to adjust a derailleur on the fly is worth the effort to learn, and besides, often times these noises are a symptom of a greater problem, and learning how to deal with them is a worthwhile investment.

Would you rather get in-person lessons on all of these issues, rather than attempting to find the information through online videos? We are putting together multiple clinics for bike repair in the upcoming year. You can fill out this brief survey if you are interested (alongside joining us on group rides), or be sure to add your email to our newsletter to get the latest information form Von Hof Cycles.