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  1. #1
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    What Do You Do If You Break Down in the Boonies?

    I just started cycling and just wondering what a person does if they are 20 miles from home and get stranded?

    Do you usually break out your cell phone and call for batman or do you walk to the nearest bike shop and try to get it repaired on the road?

    I rarely see any of you with backpacks so I don't know how you guys survive without any tools while out ont he road.

  2. #2
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Carry all the necessary stuff in a seat pack -- spare tube, patch kit, multitool, tire levers, CO2, etc. And carry a pump on the bike.
    I'm sure others will add to this list.
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  3. #3
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    98% of your problems on the road are going to be flat tires that are fixable. I think most folks carry a spare tube, and maybe even a tube plus a patch kit (the idea is that if you flat while out on the road, you can replace the inner tube, and then patch it at home).

    I think most people also carry a small multitool in their seat bag or jersey -- helps tighten down things that come loose during the ride.

    That really solves most problems right there.

    Other common problems and fixes:
    - Tire (not tube) gets cut or fails -- you can carry a light/cheap tire boot or make one out of a dollar bill
    - Broken spoke -- you can probably limp home, or tweak your other spokes w/a spoke wrench so you can keep riding awhile
    - Broken chain - bring a chain tool so you can remove bad links.

    Some folks also carry duct tape (wrapped around a tire iron or chainstay). Duct tape can fix anything.

    It's also helpful to know some basic repairs and workarounds -- for example, if a shifter fails, you can just put your chain into one gear and ride home in one gear. Etc.

    Message is you don't have to carry very much to be self-sufficient. In 10's of thousands of miles of riding I've only had to walk for help once, after a wreck. Another time I had to hitch hike to the next town for a tire.

    But most of the time all you need to do is fix a flat.
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-29-10 at 10:57 PM.

  4. #4
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    I carry a spare tube, tire levers, a pump and a multitool in a small saddlebag. For anything that can't fix, I call someone or, if I'm close enough to home, walk.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    other than punctures, or crashes and accidents like that,
    most break downs can be prevented by regular maintainence.

  6. #6
    Dead Men Assume...
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    Money. Always carry money. If you can't fix it, walk to the nearest phone and call for a cab. Did that in rural Nova Scotia after a vital piece of equipment failed.

    Now, if you are talking about real boonies then that's something else.

  7. #7
    elcraft
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    In addition to the multi tool and patch/inner tube/ pump group, I also carry an extra rear shifter cable, an extra cable anchor bolt and nut- One can set up a derailleur to shift with these things if something breaks or slips. I also carry a set of extra long screws that will fit into the derailleur's travel limiting screws. This way I can peg the chain on a specific cog or chain ring to limp home. These things don't really weigh a lot and will help you get home under most circumstances. But a cell phone and $$ trumps everything!

  8. #8
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
    If you can't fix it, walk to the nearest phone and call for a cab.
    You mean pay phones? They still have those around?? There's no taxis in my town, either... but my town's not big, I can call someone to come get me pretty much anywhere.

    I generally carry two spare tubes and some patches with me. If that doesn't get me where I'm going, then it just wasn't meant to be. I can pretty much fix anything on the bike except a broken frame... I don't think I can fit a blowtorch in my panniers.

  9. #9
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    If you carry an extra tube or two, a couple tire levers, a pump, a decent multitool, and maybe a replacement chain link, you can fix almost all the problems you're likely to encounter at least well enough to limp home. That will all easily fit into a small trunk bag, a mini-messenger-style bag, or the like. Heck, you could fit most of it into a triangle bag, and mount the pump on your frame.

    Other than that, carry a cell phone.

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I carry tube, patch kit, pump, mini tool, cell phone and wallet with money.

    I assume the most common problem is a flat, but since all my early season rides are shake out rides to get new bikes or equipment to fit properly The mini tool can handle most problems. Also when I did a couple of bike builds at home I tried to do all the assembly with just the mini tool (most of it is possible except headsets and bottom brackets). I haven't had to use the phone to get a ride yet, but my only problem this year has been a couple of flats.

    the only time that I carry extra cables or shifters is when I am touring. Then I may also carry an extra tire.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  11. #11
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I carry enough tools with me that it would have to be pretty serious for me not to be able to get back on the road...

  12. #12
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    I've had a couple of issues while out riding. One was a chain issue that I solved by walking about a mile to a LBS to have them fix it. The last one happened a couple of months ago when I flatted 3 times on my ride home from work about 12 miles from home. I ran out of tubes and ended up calling my daughter to come and get me.
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  13. #13
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I carry 3 tubes, patch kit, tire boots, spare tire, mini pump, CO2, chain tool and master link, spoke wrench, hex set, needle nose pliers, camera, 2 head lights, 3 tail lights, spare batteries for the lights. Bell, and horn.
    Most of the time ride with a mechanic.
    No phone.

    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 09-29-10 at 09:53 PM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Patches, tube, multitool including chain break, chain link, duct tape, a boot made from an old tire, zip-ties, presta-schraeder adapter. On tours or brevets I add more tools, cables, a few specific machine screws and hex nuts. What I've actually used in 30 years: tubes, patches, tire levers, pump. I should start carrying spokes and necessary tools when far from home.

    I've been extraordinarily lucky with some more serious failures occurring at the end of a ride within sight of home.

    Edit: Also I carry a cell phone - I did call for a pick-up once on our tandem when I'd left home without proper flat repair.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  15. #15
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    I fix it or walk.
    All I carry is a tube, patch kit, co2, and a pump.
    One of these days I may start carrying more.

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    if i don't have the tools to fix it properly i will fix it red neck style. i never carry a spare tire tube or portable air pump so if i get a flat i drive home on it.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazzywolfie View Post
    if i don't have the tools to fix it properly i will fix it red neck style. i never carry a spare tire tube or portable air pump so if i get a flat i drive home on it.
    You're giving rednecks a bad name. Destroying your rim by riding on a flat tire will cost a lot more than a seat bag, mini pump, and spare tube.

  18. #18
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    Pretty much what everybody else said: If it breaks down, you fix it. I started riding again on a mountain bike in the mid-'80s after a post-college layoff, and it was a point of pride to be able to fix the bike if anything broke. There were all kinds of weird stories about what you should do--stuffing unrepairable tires with leaves was one of my favorites; I actually did it once. I've removed broken rear derailleurs and ridden home singlespeed, lashed my fractured freewheel (precursor to cassettes) to the spokes with found wire and pedaled (gently) 17 miles to a friend's house. I know a guy who snapped a fork blade, stuffed a piece of rebar into the two sections, duct taped it together and rode slowly and carefully to a phone booth (this was way pre-cell phone).
    For years, I wouldn't carry a cell phone. I do now, because I'm a geezer and my wife and kids insist, but I've only called for help once, when I tacoed a rear wheel just before we were hit with a whiteout blizzard, visibility about 20 feet. Where I live, near Reno, there's good cell service in town but none a few miles to the west, when you get into the Tahoe and Toiyabe national forests. I don't MB much anymore, but if I did, most of the places I'd go would be out of phone range anyway. Cell phones are for sissies.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazzywolfie View Post
    if i don't have the tools to fix it properly i will fix it red neck style. i never carry a spare tire tube or portable air pump so if i get a flat i drive home on it.
    OK, it's your business...but why the hell would you do this? And if you did, why would you brag about it?

  20. #20
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    i'm not bragging about it. op ask What Do You Do If You Break Down in the Boonies? i don't give rednecks a bad name. i fix my bike with the tools or supplies i have. if i destroyed a rim i will replace it. i usually use steel rims on my bikes anyway so they don't get destroyed so easily.

  21. #21
    Senior Member travelmama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
    I fix it or walk.
    All I carry is a tube, patch kit, co2, and a pump.
    This plus taking the bus or train and carrying a multi-tool kit.
    Two Wheels One Love

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Do you usually break out your cell phone --- Cellphone??? Rarely carry one on a ride, and a lot of places I've ridden are so remote they don't have cellphone coverage anyway (i.e. many parts of the Canadian Rockies)

    walk to the nearest bike shop and try to get it repaired on the road? --- That would be a bit of a hike. Nearest bicycle shop is about 70 km away from where I live.

    I rarely see any of you with backpacks --- Who would want to ride any distance with a backpack? How uncomfortable!!

    so I don't know how you guys survive without any tools while out ont he road. --- What makes you think we don't have tools? What an odd comment. Have you never noticed that cyclists often have seatpacks, trunk bags, handlebar bags, panniers ... or if none of that, we've got jerseys with rear pockets?

  23. #23
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    There is a balance between carrying enough tools and spares to fix anything on your bike and taking nothing with you but a care free attitude. Everybody draws the line differently.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    A rider needs to adapt to the conditions of the ride. Some places where I go, the cell phone will not always be reliable. There are alternatives to the cell phone and its the satellite guided systems.

    On some rides, there is zero chance of getting fresh drinkable water other than what you carry. I think you know what to do here. Either carry more water or cut the ride short to fit what you can handle.

    On other rides, its about the neighborhood, and the possibility of getting robbed by homeboys. Group rides will lessen that chance. A group ride is not 2 riders.

    In California, Whiting Ranch, there were attacks on mountain bike riders by a mountain lion. One guy died and the lady got mauled. I can't remember when the attacks occurred. But we do know when mountain lions normally hunt for food. They're nocturnal hunters and if they didn't get fed, they become early morning hunters.

  25. #25
    Goodbye Leeroy Jenkins tagaproject6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirJinx View Post
    I just started cycling and just wondering what a person does if they are 20 miles from home and get stranded?

    Do you usually break out your cell phone and call for batman or do you walk to the nearest bike shop and try to get it repaired on the road?

    I rarely see any of you with backpacks so I don't know how you guys survive without any tools while out ont he road.
    What kind of breakdowns do you foresee on your rides or any others' for that matter that makes you think we ought to carry a backpack full of tools for every concievable break down? This is the time when you need to glean from the experience of others and learn. Or you could carry yourself a backpack on your rides and learn from your own experience.
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