During the summer and winter months the things you must have in a saddle bag vary greatly. For the summer the saddle bag is light, small, and simple: Hand pump, tire levers, tube, and an ID. The winter saddle bag is very different because one thing is for sure, you do not want to be stranded out in the cold. In addition to the summer equipment a chain tool, tire patch kit, spoke tool, chain lube, extra gel, and multi-tool are all musts. Nothing like a chain binding on the final hour of a long ride that will make you nuts.
Here is my top 5 ride repairs:
1.) Tire delamination: When your entire tire falls apart and you are 25 miles from home with the air temperature hovering around 15 degrees, the last thing you want is to wait an hour for somebody to come get you.
Serviced by: A Gu and Chomps wrapper after stuffing all of the nutrition in my mouth and chasing it with a winter slushy it is time to go to work. I first line the area with a neatly folded Chomps wrapper followed by the Gu wrapper centered over the tare. Then pump up the tire to 75 psi or so (3/4 pressure) and ride very carefully home.
2.) Binding/Breaking chains: During the winter months salt is abundant on the roads and it really dries out the chain and causes it to bind, wear excessively and ultimately break. Salt also get kicked up and manages to get wedged in the chain rings or in the chain causing a skip.
If the chain starts routinely skipping during a ride I immediately change gears and sees if it goes away. If it does not it I quickly lube the chain and see if the skipping goes away, if not it is time to start watching for when the chain skips and check out that link. Usually you will find some debris lodged in the chain or that one of the outer plates of the chain are no longer on the pin. This can be quickly serviced with a chain tool popping the pin back in or removing the link…both suck
3.) Multiple flats: My favorite was when I was 35 miles into a 105 mile ride last year and I got a flat from some piece of road debris. I got out the spare and put it on with pit stop precision and I start to pump it up and the tire is not pumping up. I take the tube out and learn that the tube had been in the saddle bag to long. Unfortunately I did not have a patch kit so I tore the valve off the spare and put the spare in the tire, then I took the original tube and put the tube on the rim. So when I put the tire on there were two tubes in the tire and the wheel rode like it was at 30 psi. It really sucked but it got me home!
4.) Broken cable: Way back in the early days I had just turned around to head home to have a great tail wind and went to shift into the big ring. The bike would just not shift, suddenly snap. The cable broke and it was dragging on the road behind me. Hmmm, this sucks. So I got off my bike and learned that the set screw for the derailleur had come loose so when I was shifting I was pushing the front derailleur against the big ring. I took my multi tool and got the derailleur realigned and then tied my derailleur cable to the top tube and learned that I actually had shifting by sliding the cable forward and back. It was primitive but actually I ended up riding it for 2 or three ride like that because it worked.
5.) Broken rear derailleur: Last winter I was hammering through the woods after a beautiful 2″ of snowfall. The serene beauty of fresh fallen snow so fresh that there was not a single deer or any other animal. I was dropping down into a creek bed when I clipped a stick that flung up and knocked my rear derailleur into the spokes. The next 15 seconds that followed involved a lot of sliding, swearing, and confusion on what the heck just happened. At this point I realized that going home was going to be nearly impossible without walking. The rear derailleur was ripped in two. I took out the chain tool and put the bike in the little ring in front and the little ring in the rear (38-12) and shortened the chain to ride fixie home.
Something to think about next time you are stranded, instead of who is going to come pick me up…how am I going to make this work!