Always Have A Spare

This is the second in a series of posts sharing lessons learned while bicycling more than 1,170 miles in preparation for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride across Iowa. You can see them all here.

In 4 days Ashley and I had 3 flats on our bicycles. None of them were conveniently located right next to our RV. If we hadn’t had patch kits and/or spare innertubes with us, we would have had a long walk waiting us.

If you spend any time on a bicycle I recommend you carry a patch kit or a spare tube and any necessary tools. Taking a 30 minute break to fix a flat results in a much more enjoyable day than a multi-hour walk back home would.

Learn At Home

Trust me, learning how to do maintenance on the trail side is not very fun. And some places don’t have cell signal, so you won’t have the option of learning from YouTube like I did (and did you know that you can take tires and tube off of a wheel without tire irons? Me neither, until I realized that I had left mine at home.)

Familiarize yourself with the tools and skills while in the comfort of home, when you don’t need them yet. Future you will be immensely grateful.

An Ounce Of Prevention

There’s something to that old saying. Like cars, bicycles have a recommended maintenance schedule. Every time you go out, for example, you need to check that you have plenty of air pressure in your tires. Not oiling your chain every so often not only shortens the life of your chain and sprockets, but makes it harder to pedal!

There are a lot of bicycle maintenance checklists out there (like this one). Bikes aren’t complicated systems. You can learn to work on them yourself and save lots of headache later by ensuring that your routine maintenance is kept up.

Master Your Ride

Your bicycle is a vehicle. In order to keep it running optimally you need to be familiar with how it works, how to keep it working, and how to fix it when something goes wrong – and know that there are some things that will go wrong. Fortunately, parts and tools are relatively cheap and easily stored. And it’s easy to learn.

Here’s What I Carry (in case you’re curious)