As you may know by now, two of our members suffered significant injuries due to an encounter with a pothole. Here are some common suggestions on how bicyclists should deal with potholes. Most of these suggestions apply equally to other road hazards, such as large rocks and tree branches.
Be vigilant in looking ahead and don’t ride faster than you can see. Look for dark areas that can hide hazards. The key here is to see danger far enough in advance to allow you to make small, smooth changes in your line of travel to avoid the problem. If you make a sudden move, you are less likely to make the move successfully; and the rider behind you is less likely to be able to avoid both you and the hazard. Remember, you don’t have to miss a pothole by a mile, you just have to miss it.
Call out hazards as best as you can. If you are behind the rider calling out the hazard, pass the warning down the line. Don’t follow more closely than a distance in which you can safely stop. Ask yourself if riding 0.1 mph faster is worth being too close to your riding companion to avoid a collision in a sudden stop. Remember, 15 mph is 22 feet per second, 18 mph is 26 feet per second, and 20 mph is over 29 feet per second. Come on, you know your reflexes are not what they used to be. ?
Practice skills, such as bunny hopping, that can help you avoid potholes. If you must ride into a pothole, relax your arms and shoulders and try to lift off the saddle. This will create some cushion to absorb the blow. Try to use your limbs as shock absorbers. Also, try to get your front wheel elevated enough to land on the pavement beyond the far side of the pothole rather than crashing into the edge of the pothole.
Lastly, keep your equipment in good condition. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Wear a helmet. Always. And wear gloves. These can save your hands from a bad case of road rash if you do go down.
Steve Price, Member at Large