Coach Fred: How Can I Not Jump Over Potholes?

2. ASK COACH FRED

How Can I Not Jump Over Potholes?

Q: I was riding in a group. Up ahead, the edge of the pavement had crumbled, leaving a substantial pothole. But I was hemmed in, so I smacked into it. I didn’t crash but I did pinch-flat.

I’m afraid to jump my bike. Is there a way I could I have avoided this problem while still keeping my wheels on the ground? — Barry B.

Coach Fred Matheny Replies: If you aren’t able to jump a pothole (or any other obstacle), you can lighten the impact by unweighting the bike so the wheels don’t hit so hard.

As the pothole approaches, coast with crankarms horizontal and rise slightly off the saddle. Support your weight on hands and feet. Knees and elbows should be flexed and relaxed. Keep your head up.

Have you played basketball? It’s the defensive stance. Be like a cat — light on your feet and ready for action.

Just before the front wheel reaches the pothole, crouch deeper and then rise up to unweight the bike just before impact. You don’t need to go airborne. A well-timed upward pull with your hands and feet will lighten the wheels equally and reduce the risk of damage..

Timing is everything. Practice to develop a feel for it. Don’t start with real potholes. Use cracks or patches that aren’t going to be a problem if you blow it. Keep trying and soon you’ll get the knack.

Of course, hopping your bike is even more effective and not hard to learn. This way, your wheels never touch the obstacle. The trick is to increase the upward pull with hands and feet until both wheels leave the road simultaneously.

Caution! Unless it’s done correctly, jumping can damage equipment as surely as riding into an obstacle.

Some riders pop over potholes or even railroad tracks just for the fun of it. That’s fine if you’re skilled, but most riders are better off saving the technique for critical circumstances.

Republished with the permission of the fine folks at RoadBikeRider.

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