Learn How to Fix a Flat – 3 Stories from the Road

fiAs a cyclist knowing how to fix a flat is essential!

When I first got back into cycling, I had NO idea how to fix a flat! I went out with a bike club and sure enough, I had a flat. A few of the cyclists, helped me fix the flat, even providing a tube for me.

Right then and there I knew, I had to learn — how to fix a flat. Biking across the country from Maine to Oregon, I had a total of 9 flats. Actually, not too bad.

Biking the GAP trail in Pennsylvania, we ended up abandoning the ride after our 9th flat in 9 days.  We were riding tandems with our kids, pulling a trailer.  Of course, the flat was on the tandem with the trailer and of course, it was the rear tire.  It meant, every time, we had to fully unload the rack and unhitch the trailer and repair the flat.

My husband and I have a system if we are riding together. One of us fixes the flat, putting in a new tube, while the other person patches the tube with a hole. That way, once we are back on the road or the trail we have another tube, ready for the next flat.

fix a flatBut this was baffling.  We checked the rim, we searched for the cause, and we just could not find it. We used old tricks like adding dollar bills to inside of the rim to protect the tube. Nothing worked. Ken, took the train back to the car and arrived back at the campsite the next morning. And, there it was — ANOTHER flat!  We headed home.

If we hadn’t known how to fix a flat we would have been stranded on the trail, miles from any assistance at times.

My last “fix-a-flat” lesson learned story is this:

Driving home from dropping the kids off at school, I came upon a cyclist on the side of the road broken down.  I stopped and asked if he needed help.  HE had a flat.  I offered him a ride, and gave him a ride back home.  He was about 10 miles from home and he was wearing cleats that made walking impossible. I offered to stop at our house and fix his flat, but he declined and said his mechanic would fix it. Obviously he had NO idea how to fix his flat.

Knowing how to fix a flat will keep you rolling.

My favorite pump on the road is the Topeak Road Morph.  It literally converts or morphs to a standing pump, similar to the one we all have in the garage.  It makes it so much easier.
I had a traditional frame pump years ago.  I was out with a group on a long ride.  I got a flat not far from the end of the ride.  I was alone. Everyone ahead of me.

I changed the tube, no problem, and then went to pump up my repaired flat.  The hand pump was challenging to use. I got it on the stem, started pumping, almost had the tire up to full pressure and suddenly the pump pulled the air out of the tire and I had to start again.

I swear, I pumped that tire up at least three times and it kept getting close to good tire pressure and then whoosh it was zero. I threw the pump across the parking lot and had a few choice words.

A couple of cyclists came back looking for me, and we got it pumped up and finished the ride.

Since, then, I ride with a Topeak Morph.  It is easy to use, has a pressure gage built into it and works every single time!!

Bottom line is that you need to know how to fix a flat and you need to have gear that works for you.  Of course, you also need to carry it with you when you ride or it does you no good.

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