The bottom line, if you’re running standard clincher tyres, is don’t ride on a puncture.
Firstly, as the tyre deflates, your rim becomes increasingly vulnerable to damage and it only takes a hidden pot-hole to cause an expensive irreparable ding.
Secondly, bike handling and control will deteriorate as air escapes and, no matter how carefully you’re nursing your bike home, a rolled tyre will almost inevitably result in a close encounter with the tarmac.
Best advice, if you find yourself stranded without the correct kit, make the call of shame home for assistance!
Always carry spares
Tubular tyres and tubeless tyres with a protective insert – such as the Vittoria Air-Liner that some riders were using at this year’s Paris-Roubaix – can be ridden more safely ‘soft’ but risk to bike and body is still significant.
I’d still be making a grovelling call to my better half/friend/family member.
Always, even if you’re only riding a local loop, carry the spares needed to fix a flat or minor mechanical. Walking in cleats or in your socks is no fun and there’s really no excuse for not having the basics on you.
Even if it’s just some tyre levers, a spare tube and a CO2 inflator, it hardly takes up a lot of jersey pocket real estate.
However, if you’re a bit absent minded, just stick a small saddlebag on with the above in it. It might not look very ‘pro’ but neither does tottering along in your bike shoes or trying to ride on a flat.