Your bike has two types of cables - brake cables and derailleur cables. Both cables need to be maintained and checked periodically.
A broken derailleur cable during a ride can make it hard to get home. Fixing a cable on the road can be problematic as it takes time and requires a good wire cutter. There are a few shortcut things that can be done to get yourself home without replacing your cable. Or you can learn how to replace a cable on the road. If none of these makes sense to you, then you MUST have your back up plan in action. You need to be able to call for help and have someone come get you.
When you go out on your bike, do you have a phone number of someone who will actually answer the phone and be willing to come get you????
To check your cables, you can make a visual inspection. Look at the cable, follow its path and look for stray threads coming loose on your cable. This is one sign of a weak cable. Most times though cables break up in the handlebar where they start.
Proper maintenance and changing cables on a regular basis will prevent this problem. A new cable costs $5.00, so it is foolish to not keep up with this type of maintenance.
This is more of the interesting stuff you can learn about at our next clinic.