Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bicycle Hill Climbing Tips

Most commutes have at least one. No matter how hard you try, they’re nearly impossible to avoid. Hills have the power to inflict pain on cyclists of all levels. Want to reduce your commute time and learn to embrace the discomfort of bicycle hill climbing? Read on.
Remember to breathe. It’s a natural reaction to hold your breath or to breathe shallowly when you’re in a stressful or physically challenging situation. But your body needs all the oxygen it can get to power up a climb. Practice filling your belly with air and taking long, deep breaths instead of short, shallow ones. Keep your hands at a wide stance on the handlebars in order to open up the chest.
Get in gear. Unless you’re commuting on a fixie or singlespeed, you should have gearing options to help ease the uphill grind. Consider a triple crankset if you live in a hilly area and check with your local bike shop to be sure your gearing is low enough to tackle the terrain.
Take a seat. It’s easier to sustain a lower heart rate when you’re hill climbing in a seated position. While standing increases the power you’re able to generate, it does so at the cost of an elevated heart rate, which can mean a more painful climb, and expending more energy. Stand when you must, but otherwise stay seated and slide all the way back on your saddle. This position recruits the large and powerful gluteal muscles. Staying seated also allows you to save energy by recruiting your core muscles. To engage your core, resist the urge to sit upright during a climb. Instead lean forward, bending your elbows slightly while keeping a flat back.  This lowers your center of gravity and gives your primary leg muscles a break.
Spin it. Many riders fall into the trap of spinning too low a gear, which quickly fatigues the legs and strains the knees. Instead, try to maintain a cadence of at least 85rpm. As you approach a hill, gradually shift down and work on maintaining a smooth, high cadence. If you drop into your lowest gear too early, you’ll risk spinning out and losing momentum. As you concentrate on cadence, keep taking deep breaths and focus on maintaining this rhythm as you climb.
Give yourself an advantage. It’s difficult for commuter bikes to reduce the weight of their bikes, which can be a big benefit on hills. But you can make small changes like using thinner tires or switching out knobbies for slicks if you’re primarily riding on pavement. Be sure to check your tires before every ride and keep them pumped up to the recommended PSI. And every rider can benefit from the power of mind over matter. Reinforce positive thoughts and visualize yourself pedaling confidently to the top.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hiking on Dangerous Trails

 When you hike out of the woods and there are no longer rooted trees and plants, it is because you are on ground that can not support life - either sand or rock. And, since sand is just rock that has been pulverized, its all rock and hiking on it safely requires special concerns to keep in mind.

Sand Hiking

If you've ever walked on the beach, you've felt the sand give way with every step you take. When you walk on wet sand that is packed, the going is much easier than on dry, soft sand. When the sand is piled and you are hiking up or across it, every step sinks or slips back making the going slow and more dangerous. Risks of stumbling, twisting your ankle, or causing a sandslide increase as the slope gets steeper and you get more tired. So, go slow, carefully place each step, and look for more stable ground.

Scree Hiking

Scree is bits of broken rock piled up at the base of a cliff. In the mountains, daily heating and freezing of moisture on the solid rock causes it to slowly break the rock apart and tumble down. A scree slope will pile up to its steepest possible angle. Depending on the size and shape of the rock chunks, that angle may be shallow or steep. Any additional rock that falls on the slope will roll down until it finds a resting place or hits the bottom. The same is true for your foot! When you step onto a slope of loose rock, just like sand, it will give way under the weight until the material under it settles with the new weight. This may be 1/32 of an inch or it may be a few inches. In some cases, you may be sliding down the slope along with a couple tons of rock, all looking for stable places to rest.
Established trails across scree tend to be packed indentations where many people have helped push the rock down a bit until there is a slightly wider path across the face of the slope. Scree trails can't have very steep inclines so they typically run straight across or a slight rise. It is very important to remain on the trail and watch your step. I'm not kidding when I say that you can find yourself 100 yards downhill with 1 to 5 pound rocks bouncing all around you from just one mis-step.
Screeing is a fun, very dangerous tactic of quickly descending a scree slope. If the scree is small enough and deep enough, you can kind of ski down it in your boots. You are actually creating a mini-rockslide and riding it down. Make sure there are no larger rocks to trip you up and no one below you. And, there's a good chance you will take a tumble, so doing it only on grape or orange sized scree rather than cantelope and watermelon sized scree is a good idea.

Talus Hiking

Talus is really what scree is. People just tend to call smaller bits of rock Scree and bigger stuff Talus. Really big Talus is called Boulders. It's all the stuff that has broken off of mountains and piled up. Depending on the composition of the original rock, the pieces of talus will be tiny, huge, or somewhere in between. Don't tell anyone, but this is really my very favorite kind of hiking. It can be very dangerous and takes a lot of effort, but when things are just right, you feel just like a wild mountain goat scampering wherever you want to go. Boulder hopping is when you step or hop from one boulder to the next in a large field of talus. In good hiking boots with grippy rubber soles, on dry rocks this is fun. Instead of working your way between big rocks, you are stepping on the tops of them. Besides, I get scared when I'm standing between two big rocks - I feel like an ant between the finger and thumb of my son. :-()
After practice and you are sure of your strength, balance, and ability, you can practically dance down a boulder field. Know where you are landing and have the next couple of steps already planned ahead. I usually hop back and forth when descending a steeper field because the change in direction helps slow me down - its kind of like turning on skis to slow down.

Cautions on Rock of All Sizes

  • It's easy to miss a step. Twisted ankles, scraped shins, broken bones are all things to consider. If you are going to boulder hop, think ahead about how you will get out with a broken leg. If you don't think you can, then you should find a different trail or go slowly and carefully.
  • Don't even try rock hopping if it is raining, or your boots are wet, or its cold enough for ice. Any slippery surface will be disastrous.
  • It will take a long, long time to cover a mile. Reduce your distance expectations if part of your trail is on loose scree or talus.
  • Chances of slips and failing rock are greater on the descent than the ascent. You are hitting with much more force coming downhill.
  • Don't hike up a slope at a steep angle. Go across in a switchback style. This gives the rock a better chance to accept your extra weight and keeps the person behind you out of your 'rock schadow' - that danger area where you will kick loose rocks.
  • If you kick loose some rocks, yell "Rock!". If you hear someone above you yell "Rock!", crouch down and cover your head. It's not cool to yell "Rock!" as a joke - kind of like yelling "Fire!" in a theatre.
  • Stay completely focused on where you are putting your feet. Checking out the scenery should only be done when you stop to rest.
  • Use hiking poles for more support on loose rock. If yours have metal tips, they may be more dangerous if you are stepping from rock to rock.

Cycling truths

We cyclists lie to ourselves. A lot. Like most of the human race we rely on perception rather than reality. We are our own marketing managers and spin doctors, massaging reality to tell ourselves that all is well in the world. We are not mental. Well, just a little.
Little mind tricks are what keep us pedalling on cold wet rides or slogging through an interval or headwind. They make us better riders or enable us to hold our heads a little higher when we realise that yes actually, we do look a little ridiculous wearing Lycra and hobbling and slipping on our cleats in supermarket aisles whilst searching for cheap energy!

Cycling truths and lies

This vicious headwind will make me stronger
I hate cycling and I’m never riding again
I love cycling in the rain
I’ve never felt less human
Intervals are enjoyable
Eugh, what is the point?
I will fix this bottom bracket
What time does the local bike shop open?
Today will be a gentle recovery ride
I’m knackered
This will be a gentle spin
Until somebody overtakes me
I’ll eat the perfect carbohydrate and protein blend when I get in
Food, give me food, anything!
These new bib shorts are amazing
My ass hurts a little less and the pain is enough to distract me from their extortionate cost
I don’t care about Strava leaderboards
I was slow today, must do better
These new Lycra clothes make feel so comfortable
Why do people at work look at me so funny?
I’m feeling good today
Let’s pretend that tailwind isn’t there
I’m excited about my first Cat 4 race
I wonder which lap somebody will bring me down?

I don’t need a new bike
But I want one
I’m a grinder, a real masher
My cadence is poor
I hate turbo training
Really, I do
Zwift is rubbish
I’ve not tried it yet
My commuter bike lights are 10,000 lumens
No more SMIDSY
Sportives are shit
I’m way too cool for all that nonsense
My bike weighs less than 7kg
I can continue feeding my real ale habit
Today is a rest day
It’s raining
These new wheels make me feel so much quicker
My average speed less so
I’m aiming to complete LEJOG in 3 days
I’m a little mad
I love cycling up hills
There’s no other way home

My Garmin reads 49.9 miles and I’m home
Better get back out and cycle 0.1 miles around the block
I’ll clean my bike today
Maybe next week, it’ll only rain anyway
Buying a new chain will prolong the life of my chainset
Degreasing my chain is a right palaver
My new saddle is 60g lighter
The extra padding in my chamois weighs 70g
I shave my legs to feel more pro
I’ve no idea why the pros do this
Sausage and bacon McMuffin is protein for recovery
Oh my god this is amazing I don’t care how slow I ride
I was taking it easy at the back of the group
I got dropped
Yeah I’ve a big stretching routine post-ride
The cake is on the top shelf of the food cupboard
That stage of the Tour de France was amazing
I saw the crash gif on Twitter
I’ve learnt to take it easy and enjoy cycling
I’m old and getting slower
I’m more of a sprinter
Wait for me at the top of this hill
I love riding in the rain
I’m time poor and don’t get to choose when I ride
Steel is real
I’m a slave to aesthetics
That was the perfect ride
I managed to stop for a pee without getting caught

I’m not quite race weight yet
I enjoy food
My new bike has electronic gears
My kids won’t miss Christmas this year
I don’t need Lycra
I’m not riding very far and have yet to experience chafing
Outside is free
Don’t tell anyone how much my bike cost and shhh, stop pointing at the Rapha labels
Anyone up for chat laps?
We can talk about my lack of training
My kit must be matching
It’s the only way I’ll look good on a bike
Power meters? Pah, I ride on feel
I usually feel bad
I’ve just upgraded to Dura-ace
My wallet is much lighter
Protein is essential after a big ride
I’ll stop at the kebab shop on my way home
Yeah, my new jersey is Italian race fit
We all know I should have ordered the next size up
That ride was epic
I got a little wet
I’ve not been training much
I will crush you

Friday, April 14, 2017

The end of season break – Enough is enough

We need a break. It’s over. It’s me, not you. I can commit no longer, I need space, I’m tired. Let’s not get emotional, let’s enjoy the memories we shared, fond moments we’ll never forget. So long bike.
Done. Kaput. Finito. The end of the cycling season comes to an abrupt halt, no warning, just like that, you stop cycling. Mercy. One week you’re loving every ride, no end in sight, not even winter will stop you, and then bang, you’re sat inside on a lovely day, no motivation, no guilt, beer in hand, telly on, belly out.

I’m not cycling, I’m not thinking of cycling, I’m not even cycle shopping. I’m well and truly done! Whisper it quietly, I may even be sick of cycling! The shock, the horror.
Every year the season end catches me by surprise. I never plan a break, it just happens. Body and mind decide they can no longer continue, enough they scream, we need a bloody break.

All or nothing

I’m pretty intense. When I set my mind to something, I adopt a lazer-like focus, little distracts me. I’m all or nothing. So after riding hard and often for nine months I’ve been very much looking forward to the break, mind more than body.
Year to date I’ve ridden a couple of hundred miles short of last year’s total and my ride time is a full 24 hours shorter. Yet I’ve never ridden so often with 30 percent more activities than the previous year, and double that of 2014. This despite adopting a three weeks on, one week off schedule. Short and sharp has been my game, this being my first year of structured training.
Time for rest. Despite the abrupt end, the signs have been there for a while. Intensity dipping, distance dropping, times up local hills lengthening, fingers no longer avoiding the snacks at work, a cheeky glass of wine here, there, everywhere.
The real end to my season was actually three weeks earlier, peaking in a hill climb race, satisfied with my results, or at least my performances, my inner chimp finally smiled before closing his eyes, ready for his brief hibernation.
Of course there is no ‘season’. I’m an amateur, yet my year is marked by high and low intensity. When you’re putting in hard efforts three times a week for nine months, then it’s easy to see your cycling as a regime. Such riding is not sustainable, something has to give.
Every passing year my break gets shorter and shorter. Gone are the days when I’d not cycle at all for a few months. Now I’m down to about a month and even then, I’m still riding, albeit with a focus on fun not structure.
This year I’m thinking a couple of weeks off riding completely. No fun rides, no commutes, nothing. Then a few weeks of unstructured riding up to Christmas before returning to action in January. But I cannot choose. My body and mind will know when it’s time to return. Until then, I’m looking forward to some time off.

The joy of the off season

Ahhh. No riding. Normally this would send me into a panic but not now, for this is a break well earned. I owe it to myself to rest. No longer do I watch what I eat. Booze is back, after many months of restricting myself I can now finally give in to that sweet, sweet smell of alcohol. And chocolate. And fat. And idleness.
I can indulge in some of my favourite non-activities. Horizontal all day, watching minor sports on the television, plenty of cups of tea and coffee, little bits of chocolate here and there, more snacking, and much more doing nothing. Lazing in bed when others are out on icy frozen roads, electrolytes courtesy of my salt cured bacon sandwiches, no need to worry about how many carbs I’m eating every hour, no need for padding in the seat of my pyjamas.
Mentally, this is a time to switch off too. To not worry about how I’ll fit three rides into my week, or how many layers of Lycra are needed to beat the chill, or if I’ve eaten enough food to make sure I’ll make it back home!
I can wear clothes without revealing my anatomy to the world, climb a hill as slowly as I like, stay in bed, sheesh, I can even stay up past my usual child-like bed time. Bliss.

Entropy and the need to be doing something

Bliss will inevitably turn to disquiet, to boredom, to frustration, nay, even anger. No release, no movement, no joy. Stuck inside I’ll gasp for fresh air, for adventure.
Commuting by tube rather than bike will quickly wear and turn from novelty to hell, usually by the end of the first journey. The unedifying smell of others, cramped and crushed together, cattle going to market – at least they don’t have to repeat the journey on the return. People do this every day? Wow.
Body rested, it begins to quiver with excess energy. Long standing aches and pains are banished. I’m healed. Mentally too, I’ll be itching to be back on the bike, to be free, to be challenged, to be at peace. The anticipation will build and build, a child on Christmas eve, eager to play with his new toys, patience thin.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The hierarchy of the road

Respect. That’s what missing from our roads. Nobody respects anybody. Drivers in cycle lanes, cyclists on pavements, pedestrians in cycle lanes, cyclists running red lights, drivers speeding. It goes on. We’ve become a self-entitled, self-centred, self-important society. A self society. And it’s ugly, real damn ugly.
Sure, we must look out for ourselves but at all costs? What does it cost to look out for others? To respect and care for one another? I can but dream. We cyclists often feel like we’re on the receiving end in such a world, and it’s often true, yet we also ignore others in the pursuit of the self. I count myself amongst that number.

I’ve commuted in London by bike for well over ten years. In that time, I’ve had hundreds of pedestrians step into my path. Two of them had the misfortune to feel steel against skin. Ouch.
Both incidents were many years ago in my (more) reckless youth. Not that either would have been classed as my ‘fault’ in a court of law. Yet this is beside the point. We should rarely rely on our courts, the very same system that fines a driver more for killing a swan than a cyclist.
Truth is, I wasn’t respecting the road as a shared space when I hit those two people. I had adopted the attitude that pedestrians shouldn’t have been on the road, just like car drivers who think cyclists shouldn’t be on the road, an attitude sadly reinforced this week by the UK’s so-called transport minister (I don’t know whether to laugh or cry).
I now cycle with more care and attention, adopting what should be a worldwide philosophy, the hierarchy of the road:
Pedestrians >> Cyclists >> Motorbikes >> Motor vehicles
What does this mean for cyclists? It means pedestrians come first. It means you have little excuse for hitting a pedestrian. It means you give way to pedestrians crossing at junctions (just like the Highway Code advises for cars).
It means you look out for pedestrians crossing the road in traffic even when there is no crossing. It means you wait for pedestrians to cross the traffic lights when the light is flashing amber (again, as the Highway Code advises).
Even in both of my collisions, where you could legitimately argue the pedestrians should have taken responsibility to look out for themselves, I still believe I could have been a better cyclist and looked out for them (as I now do).

Cyclist runs a pedestrian crossing. The clue’s in the name.
Collision #1: Pedestrian jumps off the rear of an old Routemaster bus and straight into my path. I had no chance to swerve, to brake, to shout, to use a bell. So what could I have done? Simple, I could have slowed down, giving me more time to react. I could have given the bus a wider berth when passing, allowing those exiting the bus more space to depart.
Collision #2: Pedestrian crosses the road, filtering through the stationary cars stuck in heavy traffic, unaware that I am riding on the road near the curb. Pedestrian assumes it is safe to cross because the traffic on the road is stationary and they don’t even think there could be a cyclist coming. Out they step, right in front of me. Wallop.
As above, I had no chance of reacting but once again, I could have slowed down, I could have been aware that pedestrians are highly likely to be crossing the road and may not be looking out for cyclists.
Should they be looking out for cyclists? Ideally, yes of course, but all other road users should modify their behaviour to look out for more vulnerable road users. So is a cyclist to blame in every pedestrian-cyclist incident? Of course not, but slowing down and showing more consideration would reduce the incidents, the near misses, the intimidation.
What about taking responsibility for our own safety? Certainly, otherwise we’d not last too long as a species. Yet where do you draw the line? This logic is often used by drivers who believe cyclists should wear helmets in case they are hit by the driver of a vehicle who didn’t see them or wear hi-viz clothing because, again, the driver didn’t see them.
Following the hierarchy of the road, a driver should be driving slow enough to see everything (i.e. obeying the speed limit!), even a cyclist dressed in normal clothes. If the conditions are bad, they should slow (showing consideration for other road users) and cyclists should use a light (showing consideration to other road users). Drivers should expect cyclists on the road, just like I as a cyclist expect pedestrians to be on the road. The road is a shared space. It is not the preserve of cyclists or car drivers.

Still not convinced? Flip the scenario. Cyclist is filtering through traffic. Using the self-responsibility rationale, the cyclist should be looking out for drivers turning left across their path, car doors opening, etc. Right? Yes, of course they should be looking out for themselves, but drivers should look out for cyclists too.
It is not always possible for cyclists to leave enough space to avoid car doors opening. Drivers should check their mirrors for cyclists when opening their door and exiting the vehicle just as they would check for other cars when crossing the road. They should let cyclists move off from traffic lights and patiently wait to overtake etc. You get the picture.
People being considerate to others? An ideal? Here in the UK, yes a crazy dream in a country where a large majority of road users (of all types) have a sense of self-entitlement where only they and their needs exist.
Are there cases where the hierarchy of the road doesn’t apply? Sure. Pavements are not shared spaces, hence no cyclists or cars should ever be on the pavement. This is the domain of the pedestrian. Cyclists have segregated cycle paths. These are the domain of the cyclist. They should be respected by pedestrians as much as pavements should be respected by cyclists.
What about the car? Well car drivers, some of you may think the road is your domain but you my friend are incorrect. The only domain solely for cars are motorways. That’s right. Every other road is shared and therefore should adhere to the hierarchy of the road.

When shared spaces just don’t work

There’s many examples. A shared path for cyclists and pedestrians can work. Cyclists must slow down to use them and use a bell. Pedestrians must look out for cyclists and avoid walking in marked bike lanes and look both ways when crossing them. However if the shared path is in a very busy area, e.g. seafront boardwalk, then I’d argue that a shared cycle-pedestrian path doesn’t work.
There’s just too many pedestrians and so cyclists would be better off either on the road (which should always be a shared space too remember!) or better still, on a segregated bike path. Often such shared spaces are badly designed too, which only adds to the confusion.
Where else are shared spaces unsuitable? Busy and narrow canal towpaths. It is unpleasant to be a pedestrian on a narrow towpath with bikes coming through. Here the hierarchy fails, not because pedestrians or cyclists have failed but because the space has failed as a shared space, it makes the experience unpleasant for the most vulnerable user of the space, i.e. the pedestrian.
Where else? Busy dual carriageways. Cyclists can legally ride on a dual carriageway. Should they? Not if they can avoid them. Vehicles moving at 70 mph (and over of course) and cyclists just don’t mix. Again, even if both the driver and the pedestrian are in a shared space observing all of the rules, the space itself is unpleasant for the most vulnerable user of the road, i.e. the cyclist. Of course it is not always possible for cyclists to route without hitting these horrid roads, again because of an infrastructure fail.

Speaking of fails, how about the common sight of the ‘National Speed Limit Applies’ sign (70 mph / 113 kmh) on a narrow and twisty country roads in the UK? Here madness lies.

So how do we achieve this Utopian ideal?

Consideration, nothing but an artist’s impression?
Good question. It requires a change in human behaviour, in law. The former takes generations but can be accelerated by a change to the latter. Changing the law is relatively easy, but what use are laws if unenforced? 79% of US drivers say it is safe to speed, 80% of UK drivers admit to speeding57% of cyclists admit to having jumped a red light (14% regularly).
How to enforce laws? First you need evidence. There’s not enough police to enforce what they perceive to be misdemeanors. Yet there’s enough drivers and cyclists on the roads with video cameras. Unfortunately such evidence is routinely ignored so again, you’d need funding to create an enforcement team. Where to get funding? Fines. You’d probably have enough revenue in a single month to fund such a team for years.
Once caught, you need justice. Points on licenses, fines, education courses, community service and ultimately prison. At the moment a few points or pounds here and there is nothing, if by a miracle of misfortune you’re caught. Should the chances of you being caught increase, the points and pounds will soon aggregate and will make you think twice about who could be filming.
So we all need to buy cameras and spy on each other? It’s a sorry state of affairs for sure but if, like naughty children, we cannot be trusted to regulate our own behavior then others must do it for us.
What’s the alternative? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments. Self-driving cars offer hope. Programmed to obey rules, breaking traffic laws could in theory be eliminated. Assuming the programmers get the code right in the first place of course. Last, but not least, we can all try to modify our own behaviour and be considerate to others no matter our choice of transport.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Want Good Running Form?

Is a good stride a matter of many disparate elements coming together or one underlying virtue?

Running form is still a hot topic these days. Countless articles about running form have been printed and posted within the past couple of years, long threads on form keep appearing in online running forums, experts on running form are touring the country talking about it, whole books on running form have lately hit the presses, and running coaches all over the country are now teaching running form, whereas in the past they ignored it.
With all this communication going on, we must have a very clear idea of what good running form is, right? Not really. In fact, all of this communication about running form is going on precisely because we don’t yet have a clear idea of its proper definition. If we’d figured it out we would have fallen silent on the topic and moved on to another.
If you ask any given “expert” on running form what it is, you’ll likely get a response that consists of a laundry list of seemingly unrelated characteristics: a midfoot or forefoot footstrike, a slight forward lean, relaxed shoulders, eyes focused straight ahead, and so forth. To improve your running form, you must instill each of these characteristics in your stride. They will somehow add up to speed and efficiency.
Perhaps it’s the Plato in me, but intuition has always told me that, whatever it is, good running form must be a single thing, not a grab bag of things. And if you take a close look at the research on running form, you will find some pretty solid evidence that good running form may indeed be one single thing.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flat Bike Tire Quick Fix Tips

A flat bike tire is the most common mechanical problem for cyclists. While the idea of changing a flat sounds daunting, it’s actually an easy fix. To avoid getting stranded (or surfing through half the contacts on your mobile phone), grab your wheel, a set of tire levers and an air pump and practice changing your bike’s tube.

Step 1: Remove the bike wheel

Begin by either unhooking or flipping the lever on the cable that clasps your brakes together. This ensures there’s space for the wheel to pass through the brakes. Then either unscrew the bolt or flip the lever on the wheel’s quick release and loosen it. If you need to replace the front tire, remove it. If the puncture’s on the rear tire, shift the chain to the smallest rear cog and then pull the derailleur back, sliding the wheel out from the chain.

Step 2: Locate the offender

It could be a tiny piece of glass or a sharp cinder that caused the flat. Hitting a pothole can also compress the tire, pinching a hole in the bike tube. Hitting a larger object like a rock will leave a gash in the sidewall of the tire, which is usually easy to spot. Start by checking the valve stem for damage and if it looks okay, fix your peepers on the rest of the tire, slowly scanning it for damage. If you locate something that doesn’t belong, carefully remove it.

Step 3: Remove the flat bike tire

Let the rest of the air out of the bike tire and then grab your tire levers and slide the edge of the lever under the tire’s stiff bead on the side opposite to the valve stem. Push the bead toward the center of the tire as you slide the lever underneath and move around the tire. If you can’t unseat the bead with just one lever, hook the first lever on a spoke and slide a second lever under the bead. Then carefully work your way around the tire. Once the tire is unseated on one side, carefully pull the valve stem out of the wheel. Inspect the tube and tire for damage and remove any sharp items. It’s crucial that you remove the sharp object from the tire or you’ll have another flat in your future.

Step 4: Replace the flat bike tube

While you can patch a tube, it’s still safer to replace it. Take the new tube, open the valve stem and blow enough air to just barely inflate it so it begins to take shape. Next insert the valve stem into the hole in the rim and slip the tube into the tire. When one side/bead of the tire is in the rim, repeat this step on the other side, using your thumbs to push the tire onto the rim, working from the valve stem out. Just be careful not to pinch the tube in the rim.

Step 5: Inflate the new bike tire

Before you begin adding air, take one last look to ensure that the tube isn’t sticking out of the tire. Then inflate the tire using either a CO2 cartridge or pump and reinstall the wheel. Don’t forget to replace your CO2 cartridge and tube so you’re prepared for the next time.

Quick tips to avoid a flat bike tire:

  • Inspect your bike tires regularly for excessive wear, flat spots or any sharp objects
  • If you accidentally ride through glass, reach down with the palm of your glove and lightly scrape the bike tire as it spins (careful with the rear tire) or stop riding and spin the tire
  • Check your tire pressure every couple of rides and inflate it to the proper PSI. Under and over-inflated tires are both susceptible to pinch flats
  • Avoid riding through debris
  • Frequent flats? Talk to your local bike shop about using a more durable bike tube or tire
  • Ride with the right bike tools with you