Cycling - Knowledge

Smart Ways to Avoid Road Potholes when Cycling

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As a cyclist, you for sure must have come across potholes on the road and dealing with them isn’t easy. You can expect the roads to be like the car adverts- just smooth and absolutely perfect tarmac all the way till you can see. But, that’s not the reality. Often heavy vehicles can cause cracks in the roads which are more prone to water logging. This can at times freeze and expand that results in the further damage of the roads. Soon, there would be an annoying road pothole which can be dangerous both for the drivers and a hazard for the cyclists.

They are devils and if you are sure to get injured if you do not how to deal with them. Incidents involving potholes already account for an estimated 10 to 15% of all cycling accidents.

So, what is to be done?

We have listed down a few smart tips that would help you in dealing with potholes if you come across one. 

Types of Potholes

There are various kinds of potholes. Some of them are easy to see while some of them are quite difficult to spot. 

Stealth Pothole

Potholes at times do not always emerge as an open crater right in the middle of the crater. These are the ones that are most dangerous. The road potholes have various shapes. As a matter of fact, some of the worst ones are the sinkholes which do not even appear like craters and are quite difficult to spot.

These generally have smooth sides and bottom and in case you drop your front tire into such potholes, it really does catch you off-guard. There are chances of you getting injured really badly in such situations. 

stealth pothole
Stealth pothole (source)

Blowout Pothole 

Another type of pothole has to be the blowouts that have a rugged crater-like appearance and tend to damage the wheels, flatten the tires, the rider as well as the cycle. In such situations, you may not have the time to react to it.

There are of course certain things which generally work better than the others so as to keep you safe in case you do spot a pothole of any kind. 

Ways to Deal with Potholes 

Dealing with road hazards like potholes is truly a challenging task. But, by adopting a few smart tips, you would be able to get out of the situation pretty easily. 

  • The Bunny Hop 

There are mainly two options that you adapt to save yourself from falling down when you encounter a pothole. One of them is referred to as swerving while the other is known as the bunny hop. A bunny hop is a popular option as it can safeguard you from crashing hard. You might want to try it a few times before applying it in a real-life situation. 

bunny hop
Master bunny hop to dodge the potholes
  • Swerving Danger 

Swerving can undoubtedly be dangerous and in some situations might even cause a crash, bring down other cyclists or even put you in the path of oncoming traffic. However, if you are out there all by yourself and there’s no heavy traffic, swerving might be a great option, especially when the hole is too deep to fly over. However, whenever you attempt it, be extremely careful. 

  • Take note of the Potholes 

This is quite an obvious one. Take note of road pothole on your regular commuter routes. This is because when you know where the potholes are, you can avoid them easily.

For instance, if you already know that there’s a huge pothole on the path that runs along the park, you can easily avoid it and thereby save yourself from getting injured. 

road potholes
Take note of potholes (source)
  • Do Not Hug the Kerb 

When road biking, learn to ignore the irate demands of the drivers. Choose the safest and most predictable line on the road and stand your ground. Adopting a good road positioning would ensure that you can keep away from the steep road edges and the sunken drains.

This would thereby offer more room to maneuver near a pothole. This way you would be able to eliminate last-minute swerves in order to avoid obstacles.

You could consider the cycling rules of your city to get a better idea. 

Love Cycling? Read about the Top Cycle-friendly Cities in the World

  • Be Alert and Use Bright Lights after Dark 

Potholes truly are a nuisance but then your safety is in your own hands. Of course, it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that the roads are maintained properly. But, then it is your responsibility to remain alert while riding.

It is recommended to always keep your head up when you are cycling. This way you would be able to spot the pothole in advance and thereby shift your position gradually on the road. 

Also, when you are cycling after it is dark outside, use a really bright front light. This would aid in spotting potholes.

bike lights
Use bike lights while riding at night
  • Keep Your Tyres Pumped Up

If you cycle on a regular basis, it is important that you keep your tires pumped up to avoid road hazards. You might not fall off or get injured but tires that aren't filled up properly will most certainly result in flat ones and might even cause damage to the rims.

That isn’t something that you necessarily want. So, remain cautious at all times.

  • Report the Hole 

 

If you do spot a nasty hole in the road, do report it as soon as possible so that it can be fixed. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to repair the potholes.

There are various communities these days which specifically address pothole hazards.

What to Do In an Emergency Situation 

Can road bikes handle bumps? 

Let’s consider for instance that you are riding a speed of 15 to 25 mph and just as you are moving ahead, you spot a road pothole. You realize that swerving isn’t an option here. If you do have time, you could attempt the bunny hop.

But, what if you do not have time?

Well, you could lift yourself out of the saddle in a crouched position and let the bike bump its way over to the other side. Bent legs would absorb the impact. 

Bunny hop in emergencies

Practice this:

Level your pedals and make sure that your body is relaxed and crouch off the saddle and then spring up and lift with your hands and feet. Begin by jumping over a line on the ground, then graduate higher. A quick jerk upward on the bars can help to un-weight the front end at the last second.

It is quite obvious for one to get stressed but it is essential that you don’t panic. It is best to practice this in a grassy field where a soft landing is guaranteed. Just in case you fall off, you wouldn’t get hurt. 

Summing Up

The above-mentioned tips would definitely help you in avoiding getting injured. It is the authority’s responsibility to maintain the roads but one’s safety is in one’s own hands. When you are road biking, you must be alert at all times. Not being alert while riding is perhaps the biggest reasons as to why people end up getting injured.

If you do spot a road pothole, be a responsible citizen and report it so that it can be repaired soon. 

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