Dealing with Flats on Group Rides

How to fix a flat on a group ride

That Uh Oh Moment

We've all experienced that "uh oh" moment. You're cruising along as a group, pacing well, enjoying the experience when everything comes to an abrupt halt as your tube goes flat. If you're riding with the wrong group they will sit and glare as you fumble with your tire - or even worse, just ride on without you. However, with the right group a flat doesn't have to be a long disaster. Read on for the best way to deal with a flat on a group ride.

Finding the right group

If you're riding with the right group, they'll be willing to work as a team when someone in the group gets a flat. Teamwork makes the dream work. Before a ride, it's wise to designate roles in case of a flat. You will need one person in charge who can give directions, one person to be a scout stationed up the road, and several people actually working on the repair. Read on about the roles below.

Steps to efficiently repair the flat

  1. Send the scout forward. The scout should position themselves about 50 feet upstream with their bike perpendicular to the flow of traffic, slightly in the road. Drivers will then know to pull slightly over and around the group.
  2. Tube Prepper. The person assigned as tube prepper should work on getting the tube ready by removing it from the box, taking off any elastic, and hand-pumping it to around 10psi.
  3. CO2 Prepper. In the meantime, the CO2 Prepper should set up the CO2 tank and regulator so that the tube can be inflated quickly once placed.
  4. Bike Holder. One rider in the group should be responsible to hold the bike once the wheel is off. This will prevent the chain coming off from the bike laying on the ground (something that can delay the group even more).
  5. Tube removal. You (or someone skilled at it) should partially remove the tire from the rim. Pull the tube out about 80% of the way, leaving it attached at the nozzle.
  6. Find the offending object. Pump some air into the flat tube and listen carefully for the leak. After locating the link, line it up with the tire to look for the offending sharp object that caused the puncture. This may seem like a tedious step, but it will prevent you from having to stop to change a flat again if that same object punctures the new tube.
  7. Swap tubes. Now fully remove the old tube and insert the prepped new tube. Put the tube and tire back in place on the rim.
  8. Pump it up. The CO2 Prepper can now fill the tire - this should only take a few seconds with everything prepped.
  9. Get ready to ride. While you put the wheel back on the bike one person can call back the scout and everyone can get in their positions to ride again.

Benefits of the team approach

Not only does working together on a flat cut the repair time by a quarter or a third, it also helps foster a team spirit among the group of riders. Everybody wins when you work together as a group.


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