Road Hazards

When you’re out there cycling, you have to contend with more than just your bike, your physical condition and the weather. There’s a whole mess of environmental factors that can lead to you crashing face first into the pavement. Many can also lead to real problems with your bike, such as flat or flattening tires and bent rims. Here are some of the obstacles you can encounter and how to deal with them:

•   Potholes – It’s a fact of life there are going to be potholes. The easiest way to avoid them is to stay on your common route, where you know the potholes are. Of course, potholes also have a tendency to spread and appear out of nowhere, particularly in the winter. So you need to pay attention and keep an eye out; not just for the pothole itself, but for the churned up rubble and asphalt pieces that can crash you or pop your tire.

•    Oil Spots – Oil spots can also be known as oil slicks, and we all know what that can lead to. Whether they are wet or dry, an oil spot on the road can easily lead to you losing traction and skidding out. A dry oil pot will still be discolored from the rest of the pavement and a wet oil spot will be greasy looking, shiny and multicolored. You should always avoid oil spots when possible, and if it’s too late, don’t turn or speed up through one, coast through one and until your tires can shed the excess oil from them.

•    Wet metal – Wet metal spots you could encounter include sewer grates, manhole covers and railroad tracks. All can be dangerous when wet, and some, such as railroad tracks, can be dangerous at other times as well. This is because they are just wide enough apart where your tire can get stuck down and pinched in one. Always use caution whether in the rain or not with these metal areas, and if possible, avoid them completely. Railroad tracks on your path generally can’t be avoided, so take them on at a right angle to prevent any problems.

If you can’t steer around any of these hazards in time, or don’t want to lose your speed or your line, you can always master the art of the bike jump. Practice this simple maneuver on grass until you can master it. Keep the pedals even with each other and stand up into a crouch. Jump up while also pulling with your hands to lift your bike. Once you have this down, you have another weapon in your arsenal for preventing crashes and avoiding hazards.

As general guidelines to keep you and your bike safe, remember to always pay attention to where you are going. Just like when you’re driving a car, that doesn’t mean just looking straight ahead and zoning out, that means actively scanning for any dangers and keeping your focus sharp.

Additionally, always try to use tires with a Kevlar belt lining, which helps a great deal in preventing punctures to the tire itself. And of course, always keep the tires filled up appropriately and check after every ride for any objects or materials that could be stuck in them. Never stay put with badly worn or dying parts, you should replace them as soon as possible to prevent problems before they lead to injury.