Surviving a flat tire on a dangerous descent

Last weekend I was cruising down Las Flores in Malibu when I suddenly heard the dreaded hisssss coming from my back wheel. As flat tire is always a nuisance, but it can be downright dangerous on a twisty, steep, 35mph descent. Fortunately, there are a few tips that will increase your odds of staying upright.

  1. Transfer your weight to the good wheel. You are about to start braking, and you need get additional traction on the tire that is still inflated. This means getting your butt way over the rear wheel or else moving your body forward and resting more of your weight on the handlebars.
  2. Hit the brakes. Brake hard on the good wheel, and much more softly on the flat tire. If your leak is not too fast, no need to freak out. But if you have a blowout, you need to slow down in a hurry. On the flats it is not the end of the world if you ride on a flat for a few extra meters, but it is not an option on a big descent
  3. Avoid turning at all cost. This is especially critical if your front tire is going flat. Turning will cause the tire to roll and lose all traction -- it is a recipe for disaster. In most cases it is better to gently roll off of the road onto the shoulder than make a sudden turn and find yourself eating asphalt.
Be safe out there!

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