How to Get Your Bike's Tires Out of a Crack in the Road
Every now and then, a crack in the road can get in the way of your ride. Those narrow tires don’t need much of a trench to find their way into a groove and get stuck there.
When your bike’s tires do end up in a crack in the road, it can quickly lead to panic. You feel trapped, and if your wheel bumps the edges of the crack, you may lose control of the bike.
If you’re prepared, though, there’s no reason to overreact. Getting your bike tires out of a crack is fairly simple as long as you know the drill. As usual, longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie has the tips to walk you through how to get your bike’s tires out of a crack in the road.
What Kinds of Cracks Cause Problems for Cyclists?
Cracks, holes, and other types of damage are common on roads, and many of these issues don’t pose a problem for cyclists. But long, narrow stretches of cracks or otherwise uneven pavement can be dangerous road-biking hazards.
Coach Darryl most commonly notices these kinds of cracks in areas of the road where old utility trenches have started to buckle and sink over time. There may be 100 feet of cable under the road, and if that wasn’t laid quite right, the trench may start to sink and cause a hazard for cyclists.
This can also happen from large vehicles or semi-trucks damaging top layers of pavement on the road. The trench may not even be an inch deep and just a few inches wide — just enough to get your tires in and make it tough to get them out. Even a stretch of road with a mix of asphalt and pavement side by side next to a curb can create a similar problem.
Why Cracks Are a Problem for Your Bike
With little room to maneuver your wheels, you can start to get a bit “squirrely” on the bike. Cyclists use that term to describe another cyclist whose riding is unreliable or erratic, and that can definitely be the case when you’re stuck in a crack.
“The fear here is that as you’re trying to get up onto the higher surface, the side of the tire or the rim of the wheel will strike a glancing blow against the side of the higher lip of the crack,” Coach Darryl says. When that happens, the bike gets pushed one way from the bottom while your body momentum is going the other way from the top. And down you go.
7 Steps to Get Your Bike Tires Out of a Crack in the Road
How do you get your bike’s tires out of the crack in the road? The simple answer is to act quickly. If you do get your bike stuck in a crack in the road, you have to be mentally ready to assess the situation. Examine the length of the crack and decide if it’s short enough to ride it out or if you’ll need to move fast to get yourself out of it.
Once you decide you need to make a move, follow these bike-riding safety tips and steps (in this order):
- Alert other cyclists. Yell “Crack!” a few times so any fellow riders will know to give you some space. This process could send you 2-4 feet suddenly to either side, and you don’t want to cause an accident with another cyclist.
- Don’t panic-brake. Sudden, hard braking can cause you to wobble side to side and make it even more likely you’ll hit the edges of the crack. If you’re going fast, it’s OK to brake lightly to slow down; just don’t slam the brakes.
- Decide which way you will steer. This depends on what’s on either side of you. You’ll want to steer toward the more open side (usually your left, since the curb is often on your right).
- Raise yourself slightly off the leather bicycle saddle. Standing up will shift your weight from the saddle to the pedals, lowering your center of gravity on the bike and providing more stability for the bumps ahead.
- Turn sharply. When you’re anxiously riding through a crack, you may feel afraid to turn too hard to get out. But those slow, gentle turns only make it more likely for the side of your tire or rim to slide off the raised lip of the higher section of road — causing you to lose traction and control. Instead, plan to turn sharply and decisively into the edge of the crack so your tire hits it more from the front than from the side.
- Lift the handlebars as you turn. Now, you want to get your weight off the front wheel so it’s easier to pop the wheel out of the crack. As you turn, pull up on the handlebars to give your bike a boost.
- Stay the course. With your front tire out of the crack, you’re only halfway there. If you straighten out too soon, your back tire might be the one to take a glancing blow. Stay with your turn until you feel the back tire pop out of the crack, too, then you can straighten out and ride on safely.
If you have that process firmly in mind when you get your bike stuck in a crack, you can get out of it in a matter of seconds. Next time it happens and you're wondering, “How do you get your bike’s tires out of the crack in the road?” don’t overreact. Quickly assess the situation, act decisively, and keep riding.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our team today!
Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.
Photo by Jaxon Lott on Unsplash