One of the worrying issues for most end to enders is how to deal with mechanical problems en route. Certainly you will need to be prepared to deal with punctures, although if you have a decent pair of new tyres you might get lucky. But what about more drastic mechanical issues? How many tools should you carry? Should you carry spare parts; spokes etc? What if you cannot fix the problem…and you are twenty miles form the nearest house in the wilds of Scotland…with night setting in?
On my last LEJOG I suffered a ripped tyre and consequently a series of four punctures within a couple of miles on a canal path. It was my own fault for riding with lightweight road tyres, that were badly worn before I started (my excuse is I was testing the limits of what I could get away with for the sake of research). I used up all my spare inner tubes and was stuck. I phoned home, got the emergency services (wife) to locate a nearby B&B and limped the four miles to it, having bodged a very low pressure repair. The next day I rode the bike very slowly ten miles to a bike shop, which was closed. I then limped another eight miles to the next closest bike shop and had new tyres fitted. Hooray! But I still had 150 + miles to ride to get to my next B&B and it was already 11:00.
Since then (and I may be slow on the uptake) I have discovered Cycle Break Down Cover.
This is an AA style service for bicycles. From researching on the internet I have taken out cover with ETA Insurance. They seem pretty ethically minded and I have full cover for £18 a year. Cover includes:
- pick up from any road in the UK that is navigable by recovery van
- transport for you and your bicycle back to a safe location*
- unlimited call outs**
- 90 days european cover
- 60 days worldwide cover
* they will take you to the nearest repair shop, railway station, car rental agency, overnight accommodation or home, within 25 miles.
** if you have been rescued for the same fault three times in a year you will need to provide proof of the issue being fixed before they will pick you up for the same fault again.
They also provide cycling specific insurance. If you take this option then the break down cover is included for free.
If I had been covered on my last trip LEJOG when I ripped my tyre and punctured 4 times in a very short distance, I would have been rescued and at the bike shop within an hour or two. I could have then continued on to my prearranged B&B stop. I would have saved the £60 cost of the additional B&B (I had paid in advance for the much cheaper one I missed) and wouldn’t have had to face a 160+ mile day. Now, in my mind that would have been £18 very well spent!
If you want more details on the breakdown cover here is a link:
Please note that this link takes you to the Cycling Insurance page, which includes Cycling Breakdown Cover. If you want Breakdown Cover only, scroll halfway down the page and there is a link in the menu on the left hand side.