This section deals with the repairs you may need to make while out riding – and for these, you need a trail toolbox. Always carry your own, even if you ride with other people who are well equipped. No one wants to be in a group standing around saying, “But I thought you’d have your pump.” Also, ensure you can use everything in your toolbox, and immediately replace items that you run out of, like spare tubes.
If you’ve never tackled the following jobs before, practice:
(1) Remove and replace all parts of your bicycle wheels.
(2) Take off and install the inner tire of your bicycle wheels.
(3) Separate and reconnect your bicycle chain.
None of these repairs are complicated, but they’re all much harder if tackled for the first time in cold and wet weather. Considering what we expect them to do, bicycles rarely go wrong. If you keep your bike well maintained, it will be unusual to face a trailside repair that is not on this list. However, you are occasionally faced with the unexpected.
Once, miles from home with the night closing in, I had to make an emergency derailleur pivot. I succeeded using a spare axle from the dismantled innards of a hex wrench tool, held in place with a generous hunk of electrical tape. The derailleur even changed gear quite effectively.
Stay calm and think clearly
Every time you have to fix your bike on the side of the road, think of the task carefully before you begin. If you are frustrated with repairs or other improvements, don’t start repairing until you are less stressed. Do not, at any stage, throw your bicycle, but you are upset. This does not improve anything. You also look stupid.
Remember, everything you carry and use are potential emergency parts. Shoelaces, watch straps, almost anything can be useful in ways that you would never think of until you need them. If you have to release the brakes to fix the bike, remember to put it back on. Spread the jacket on the ground to catch the pieces before you start working.
Any part that falls from your bike or falls through cold, wet fingers can create freedom, lie still, and rest on the grass until you give up and leave. Your bike is on your side and wants to be better, but that requires encouragement, not abuse. Swear if you have to, but don’t kick it.
Check your bike after an accident
The priority after you fall is to judge yourself as safe to ride once the bike is repaired. You might be shaken even if you are not hurt. Stop and return before you return to the bike. After you decide that you are beautiful, check the bike. Don’t be distracted by visible damage because there is often more than one problem. Decide if you can fix the bicycle safely, or whether it will be faster to walk out than struggling for years with repairs before hobbling back home.
Take care of tools while driving
You can carry your gear in a waterproof backpack. If you don’t use a bag or race and only have your jersey pockets to put things in, then use the seatback for the spare tube and your toolbox as a landing on your back with a giant multitool in your pocket for new bruises. Many people carry their equipment in a fanny package, but they are heavy and painful to sit on, so it’s better to let the bike do the work.
Seatbacks that clip on and from the brace is the best. The selection of this tool is a starting point rather than a definite plan. What you need depends on your bike and driving environment. For example, the bolt-on most bikes is a hex type wrench, but if you have nuts, you need the right wrench. If you often get a puncture on a bicycle tire, because you are driving a thorny path – bring extra tubes and patches. Bring a patch kit even though you have a spare tube.