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  1. #1
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Bicycle Roadside Assistance?

    Has anyone ever used this service? They're a little vague on exactly how it works. What I would like is an "emergency drive home" service. Yes, I can fix a flat -- but if something more serious happens, or if its getting dark, or my tire has a rip, or my spouse is out, etc. -- it would be nice to have some place to call.

    http://www.betterworldclub.com/roads...tance/bike.htm
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  2. #2
    Senior Member CTAC's Avatar
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    I have a cell phone with me and Yellow Cab phone on it if something happens. It's cheaper and I do not have to worry about fine print. Never needed yet, though.

  3. #3
    Its Freakin HammerTime!!! C_Heath's Avatar
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    motorola in fanny pack


    I live in a 1 horse town tho, I know everyone that passes by anyhow. lol
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I don't like any other exercise or sports, really.
    ....

    http://www.xxcycle.com/logo_w150h100/bmc.jpg

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Somehow I have my doubts that they would come out to the places I ride!


    My roadside assistance consists of several bicycle maintenance courses and a bag of tools and parts.

    Getting dark out? That's what my lights are for.

    A rip in the tire? No problem! I've got tire boots and a spare tire for that.

    Spouse? What spouse?

  5. #5
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Somehow I have my doubts that they would come out to the places I ride!


    My roadside assistance consists of several bicycle maintenance courses and a bag of tools and parts.

    Getting dark out? That's what my lights are for.

    A rip in the tire? No problem! I've got tire boots and a spare tire for that.

    Spouse? What spouse?
    Well, we can't all be Machka I have this image of you being rescued by one of those St. Bernard rescue dogs with a canister of spirits around its neck.

    Do you carry all that for say, a 30 mile trip out? Including lights and spare tire? If I'm planning to be back before dark, I only carry an emergency "barely legal" light.

    The books I have don't say much about boots -- other than the dollar bill trick. What do you use for boots?
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  6. #6
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CTAC
    I have a cell phone with me and Yellow Cab phone on it if something happens. It's cheaper and I do not have to worry about fine print. Never needed yet, though.
    Maybe there should be a "cheapest emergency cell phone service" thread. Don't cell phones run something like $30 a month? The roadside assistance would only be about $40 a year. I'm not sure if taxis are practical where I live. In any event, can you get your bike in a taxi?
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Well, we can't all be Machka I have this image of you being rescued by one of those St. Bernard rescue dogs with a canister of spirits around its neck.

    Do you carry all that for say, a 30 mile trip out? Including lights and spare tire? If I'm planning to be back before dark, I only carry an emergency "barely legal" light.

    The books I have don't say much about boots -- other than the dollar bill trick. What do you use for boots?


    Yes, I carry quite a bit with me on all my rides.

    For a 30 mile ride done in the middle of the afternoon, I would only have my rear blinkie lights with me, and possibly my helmet light (because it is almost always on my helmet), but for anything where there is the faintest possibility that the ride might end up in the dark, I'll bring a light. I've got the spot for it on my bicycle, it's just a matter of clicking it into place.

    For a 30 mile ride, I would likely only carry tire boots because they'll get a person home. I've got the Park Tools tire boots which I got from MEC, but I see that they don't appear on the site or in the catalogue anymore. Good thing I've got a whole stack!! But for my centuries and longer rides, I've got that spare tire with me.

    This is what it all looks like packed onto my bicycle. The first is my long distance setup (centuries and longer), and the second two are basically my shorter distance setup.

    .
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Rancid's Avatar
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    I carry a small messenger bag even on a normal ride (aka not commuting). I keep pretty much everything I could possibly need in there: chain breaker, spare links, tube, money, huge multi-tool, first aid kit, cresecent wrench, cell phone, electrical tape. Worse comes to worse and I can't fix it, I could call my shop or even another bike shop and they would send someone.......got to keep it real like that.
    I've been here since 2004? I've never felt this old before.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CTAC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Maybe there should be a "cheapest emergency cell phone service" thread. Don't cell phones run something like $30 a month? The roadside assistance would only be about $40 a year. I'm not sure if taxis are practical where I live. In any event, can you get your bike in a taxi?
    How are you going to call your roadside assistance?

    I said cell phone because I do not have a ground line at all. There is no real need for the cell phone. Just write the 800 taxi number down and put it somewhere. There are payphones and businesses around. In case you are in the middle of nowhere having cell phone is not very likely to help. Just haul a truck and ask for a ride.

    And the cheapest cell phone is the one your company pays you for

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Maybe there should be a "cheapest emergency cell phone service" thread. Don't cell phones run something like $30 a month? The roadside assistance would only be about $40 a year. I'm not sure if taxis are practical where I live. In any event, can you get your bike in a taxi?

    First, yes you can get your bicycle into a taxi. You'd be surprised how small a vehicle is actually needed to transport a bicycle. Once you get the wheels off, there's nothing left to one! I've seen them transported with motorcycles, and in fact, just recently a very good friend of mine transported a new bicycle home ....... using his current bicycle. So you don't even need a motorized vehicle!

    Second, wouldn't it be cheaper to take a bicycle course? My first cost me about $25, I think ... then I took a second one several years later for about $10, I believe, from MEC. In addition to that I've had several "lessons" from more experienced bicycle mechanic friends who were willing to take the time to show me how to do various things. If another intermediate-level course came available in my area, I'd be there! And I'd love to take a more advanced course one day.

  11. #11
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Yes, I carry quite a bit with me on all my rides.
    Yeah, I do too -- but I'm neurotic. Can't tell what's on your bar, but I've got a light (home-made) and a road computer and an airhorn. A set of basic tools and spare tube in the saddle bag (large, yet stuffed full). Plus more domestic stuff in the messenger bag.

    Actually, if that's your setup for centuries, its pretty compact. I assume you have a pump, locks, spare tire, additional clothes, and food all in the back bag? What's in the front bag? When it gets dark, I assume you have to move the front bag to the rear to make room for the light?

    Is that a generator in the back? Is that a standard item these days for long-distance bikers? Do modern generators overcome the problem s of power fluctuations that the (possibly cheap) older ones had? Where they would burn out your bulb on the down slopes and be too dim on the upslopes?

    Regarding learning bike repair classes, I'm not sure where to find any. The one thing I got out of the books I'm working to is that as soon as you get beyond basic repairs (flats, tires, and chains) you start needing expensive (and heavy) tools. What kind of on-the-road repairs have your classes helped you with?

    Thanks!
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    I'd sure want to know a whole lot about how the program is supposed to work before I paid any money for the service. I've done tech support for some large rides so I have an idea of the logistics involved with that. Providing any kind of reasonable support for somebody who is 50 miles from the nearest city doesn't sound very realistic to me.

    Incidentally, I normally ride with just my wallet and enough stuff to fix one flat tire. I'm writing this from home right now so I've obviously always found a way to get back.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Maybe there should be a "cheapest emergency cell phone service" thread. Don't cell phones run something like $30 a month? The roadside assistance would only be about $40 a year. I'm not sure if taxis are practical where I live. In any event, can you get your bike in a taxi?
    Roadside assistance is worthless unless you can contact them. For most of us that means no cell no service. The original responders point about cabs hits the point. Paying for a ride you will likely never nead that is limited to 30 miles does not seem like a good gamble.

  14. #14
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    My understanding is that AAA members would get road-side assistance in the form of.... a ride home or a safe location. I have never tried it but I think it is part of their benefits.

    Though I am a LAB member, I have never heard of anyone who used Better World Club road side services.

    Last year, I got in a situation when my front hub axle broke in a remote snowy road . I was able to reach my wife at work (who couldn't find a better excuse to leave a boring meeting ), otherwise I would have tried AAA next, probably 911 then.

    On a different note, but just to show that AAA can go beyond the usual mechanical failure: A couple of years ago, in our area around the Christmas season AAA advertised a rescue service for members who may have had one drink too much to call them for a ride home with their car on tow, no questions asked. (maybe some great singing in the cab ). I thought it was great. Not sure if they still do this.

  15. #15
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Maybe there should be a "cheapest emergency cell phone service" thread. Don't cell phones run something like $30 a month? The roadside assistance would only be about $40 a year. I'm not sure if taxis are practical where I live. In any event, can you get your bike in a taxi?
    If you want cheap emergency phone only, then you have several options:

    Get a prepaid cell phone with a minimum number of minutes. Although the cost per minute is high, there should be no monthly charge so in the long run, unless you have lots of emergencies, the cost is low.

    Get a used cellphone that is not activated. In the US, I believe that all cell phones can make a 911 call so long as they are in range of an approriate cell tower, regardless of whether they have a current service. Obviously, this option is for serious emergencies, not a busted bike (unless it was busted by the car that ran into you!), but if you get an old phone from a friend, the cost is right.

    If you are in remote areas, as Machka stated, there may be no cell service available at all. I keep a prepaid phone card access number with me so all I need is a pay phone. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of cell phones, pay phones are getting hard to find...

  16. #16
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    The bicycle alliance of Washington offers this service to promote bicycle commuting. I have never had to use it, but nice to know it is available. Only available in King county if I remember correctly.

  17. #17
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    Get a prepaid cell phone with a minimum number of minutes. Although the cost per minute is high, there should be no monthly charge so in the long run, unless you have lots of emergencies, the cost is low.
    .

    Never heard of those yet. Where do you get them? Which are ok and which are worst than soggy toast?
    Hi 'o Silver away

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Can't tell what's on your bar,

    Actually, if that's your setup for centuries, its pretty compact. I assume you have a pump, locks, spare tire, additional clothes, and food all in the back bag? What's in the front bag? When it gets dark, I assume you have to move the front bag to the rear to make room for the light?

    Is that a generator in the back? Is that a standard item these days for long-distance bikers? Do modern generators overcome the problem s of power fluctuations that the (possibly cheap) older ones had? Where they would burn out your bulb on the down slopes and be too dim on the upslopes?

    Regarding learning bike repair classes, I'm not sure where to find any. The one thing I got out of the books I'm working to is that as soon as you get beyond basic repairs (flats, tires, and chains) you start needing expensive (and heavy) tools. What kind of on-the-road repairs have your classes helped you with?

    Thanks!
    My computer is the only thing on my bar. And no, I don't move the handlebar bag to use my lights, my lights shine underneath my handlebar bag, as seen in the photo below.

    This is my packing list: http://www.machka.net/packinglist.htm
    Although I don't carry the camping gear or the Civvy clothing when I am not touring ... and I don't always carry absolutely everything on the list. I keep the personal stuff and some of the nutrition stuff in my handlebar bag, and the rest in the back.

    That is a lightspin dynamo on the back, but I will be removing it this year. It worked really well for a couple years but hasn't worked at all well lately. Most long distance riders use hub dynamos ... and I would too, if I could afford it. But I'll be using battery lights instead.

    Bicycle repair classes can be found at your local bicycle shop, MEC, REI, from your local bicycle touring clubs, or possibly also from your local colleges and universities.

    I haven't experienced very many on-the-road repairs but I have fixed flats, including ripped tires, I can and have adjusted my brakes, and I have a good idea of how to change out certain spokes if necessary. I can remove my chain to clean it, or to take out a link if it happened to break. When I travel with the bicycle, I know how to take it all apart (handlebars, pedals, rear derailleur, etc. etc.) to pack it in a box ... and I know how to put it all back together again. (I've done that several times - both taking it apart and putting it back together - in the middle of a busy airport with people milling around, and even standing around and watching like I'm putting on performance art or something!). Stuff like that.

    Oh yes ... the worst bicycle "failure" that has every happened to me was when my freehub died. When that happens, you can't pedal anymore ... well, you can pedal, it just isn't going to help you any! Fortunately, it decided to die just as I was pulling into the suburb of Hobart, Tasmania, where I was going to spend the night and I coasted into the place I was staying. Then I was able to get a new freehub at a bicycle shop in Hobart. However, if something like that had happened earlier that day ....... I would have resigned myself to walking, and coasting downhill when I could.
    .
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  19. #19
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    Get a prepaid cell phone with a minimum number of minutes. Although the cost per minute is high, there should be no monthly charge so in the long run, unless you have lots of emergencies, the cost is low.
    Never heard of those yet. Where do you get them? Which are ok and which are worst than soggy toast?
    Yes -- which carriers offer this service?
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  20. #20
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I've done that several times - both taking it apart and putting it back together - in the middle of a busy airport with people milling around, and even standing around and watching like I'm putting on performance art or something!).
    Have you been able to do that since 9/11 ?
    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Oh yes ... the worst bicycle "failure" that has every happened to me was when my freehub died. When that happens, you can't pedal anymore ... well, you can pedal, it just isn't going to help you any! .
    Freehub? Not freewheel? So an older bike? Either way, not something you're likely to be able to fix without a fairly complete bike tool kit -- and parts.

    Looking at your packing list ... what is a mascot?

    Getting a little further afield ... relating to another thread ... I notice in your pictures that your Brooks looks to be oriented fairly flatly. Am I seeing that correctly? I'm still trying to figure out the best angle for mine. Some of the people in the other thread suggested having the horn pointed slightly up. Any thoughts on angles?

    Thanks!
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Have you been able to do that since 9/11 ?
    Yep! In fact, all my travelling with airlines with my bicycle has been since 9/11.



    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Freehub? Not freewheel? So an older bike? Either way, not something you're likely to be able to fix without a fairly complete bike tool kit -- and parts.
    It's a new bike ... it's the part in the hub with the little teeth that spring out to engage the wheel. And there was no way I could fix that. It had to be replaced.



    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Looking at your packing list ... what is a mascot?
    My mascot is "Little Machak" ... a small black plastic cat. I lost my first "Little Machak" on my flight home from Australia (I wrote a whole story about that somewhere here), but I've got a new one now who will start accompanying me on rides soon.



    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Getting a little further afield ... relating to another thread ... I notice in your pictures that your Brooks looks to be oriented fairly flatly. Am I seeing that correctly? I'm still trying to figure out the best angle for mine. Some of the people in the other thread suggested having the horn pointed slightly up. Any thoughts on angles?

    Thanks!
    The nose of mine is fairly flat, and the back curves upward. That is very comfortable for me, but then I'm a woman ..... and I have read that most men prefer the nose pointed slightly up.

  22. #22
    Wolfman got nards! In Absentia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkS
    Yes -- which carriers offer this service?
    T-Mobile and Cingular definitely offer it relatively cheaply. You can get some from some convenience stores (7-11 for sure), but with the large carriers you can be sure that you'll have a signal in all but the remotest of locations. You can also check specific coverage areas on their websites or at their stores to be sure that you'll have a signal on your usual routes.

  23. #23
    Avatar out of order. MarkS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by In Absentia
    T-Mobile and Cingular definitely offer it relatively cheaply. You can get some from some convenience stores (7-11 for sure), but with the large carriers you can be sure that you'll have a signal in all but the remotest of locations. You can also check specific coverage areas on their websites or at their stores to be sure that you'll have a signal on your usual routes.
    Thanks for the links!

    This is what frustrates me every time I look into cell phones -- too many weasel words, sub-conditions, modifiers, hidden charges, etc.

    Since the credit on the phone charges after 30 days (depending on how much you paid), you essentially have a monthly service charge. Or, if you pay at once, a deal of $100 per year. There might be a way to work it if you never use your phone and renew at the end of every 90 day grace period -- making it $30+ a year (but only usable 1 out of 4 months) assuming that you can re-activate on the fly with the 611 number ... unclear if that's a possibility.

    But really, I expect that I'm usually within 2 miles of a pay phone. I carry a phone card, though I'm not sure (more weasel words!) whether the pay phones will take it as currency. The real issue is getting home. Sounds like the general consensus says that the suggested program is not worth it. What about the associated membership in LAB and subscription to Bicycling magazine? Does that change the balance at all?
    Cars kill 45,000 Americans every year.
    This is like losing a war every year, except without the parades.

  24. #24
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    If you have AAA with your car, do you think they would come get you on a bike?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2
    If you have AAA with your car, do you think they would come get you on a bike?
    ah ah

    Actually after I wrote the earlier post I emailed AAA and they answered that they would not provide assistance, however they mentioned: "While we would be more than happy to offer assistance to you in the case of an emergency, our assistance would be limited to member benefits such as;
    hotel accommodations, car rentals, calling a family member or friend, contacting the local area police."

    and thought it was a fair answer.

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