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AAA now provides bikes with the same roadside service as automobiles.
Spend any amount of time on a bike, and it’s bound to happen—you get a second flat tire when you only packed one spare tube, that chain you’ve been meaning to replace “eventually” finally snaps, or a random-but-important bolt dislodges and disappears. If you’re lucky, this mishap will occur within walking distance of your home or bike shop—but because the Endurance Gods have a wicked sense of humor, you’ll more likely be stranded miles from anyone or anything.
When this happens, AAA is on the way. The American Automobile Association, long known for providing roadside assistance for vehicles, has expanded its coverage to help members of the pedal-powered variety.
Utilizing AAA’s 24/7 bike service is the same as with a car—when a bike is rendered disabled, the rider can call the number on their AAA card for assistance. After verifying the caller’s membership status and taking down location details, AAA will dispatch a truck to pick up and transport both bike and rider to a safe location. Depending on the limits of your coverage, this location or may not be the member’s home or preferred bike shop—though upper-level Plus and Premier memberships will transport up to 100 miles, Classic memberships will only allow for transport of 5 miles. Still, if it can get you to a gas station to MacGyver a repair and fill up on free air, it’s 5 miles one doesn’t have to uncomfortably clomp through in a pair of bike cleats.
It’s important to note that this is a tow service for disabled bikes only—the terms of the Bicycle Roadside Service do not allow for airing or changing a flat tire, swapping out parts, or otherwise conducting repairs on the road. It’s also not for fatigued riders looking for a lift to the nearest Coca-Cola fountain—the terms explicitly state bike must be unsafe or inoperable in order to receive roadside service.
Though the AAA card shouldn’t be used in lieu of a well-stocked saddle bag, the option is a great insurance policy when the repair kit fails. In a situation where you can’t get a friend or family member to bring you home—on vacation, for example—it’s good to know there’s another number to call.