by Liesl Begnaud
Early in the season, it’s important to check your bicycle and make sure it’s safe and ready to roll you through miles and miles of riding. Here is a short checklist:
Tires: When have you put on new tires? Check your tires and observe the wear patterns. Look at the tread. Has the tread become bare? Have you had any objects pit the tire? Have you used your back tire on an indoor trainer all winter? Be aware of the normal wear on tires and replace tires at least once a year, and more frequently if you are a high-mileage rider.
Tubes: Stock up on new bike tubes each season. While tubes will last a long time, if you have patched a tube and not used it for a while, check the tube. Start out your season with new tubes. This also gives you a really good reason to practice changing a bike tube and check the inside of your tires for sharp objects.
Brakes and Cables: Brake pads wear out and brake levers can get soft or even crack. If you transport your bike during the season, brake systems can shift or twist off line. Cables also can stretch or break. Ask the bike shop mechanic to check and replace cables and your brakes when you take it in for a seasonal check up!
Chains: Chains also need to be replaced every so often. It can be hard to detect a soft link, but they do become weak and break. Keep your chain clean and lubed and replace as needed. Clean your bike chain after every few rides. Dirt and grime build up making for a less smooth ride and a shorter life for the chain.
Handlebar tape and bike plugs: On a road bike, bar end plugs are required for you to race. Check your handlebar tape and get it wrapped up tight. You don’t want to lose tape hanging or half the bar taped. Old tape will lead to sticky hands. The tape also helps secure the bar end plugs. If needed, invest in new bike tape and re-wrap the bars.
Tool Kit and Bento Bag: Check and replenish your tool kit: Make sure you have CO2 cartridges and new tubes. Do you have your multi-tool and levers? Do you have old sticky gel wrappers in your bento bag? Does it need to be washed? Is the Velcro secure or is the bag hanging by a thread?
Bike fit: Check seat height, stem, reach; It’s always a good idea to get a proper bike fit every year. While most adults are not growing three inches each year like the kids, body geometry changes over a season. You also want to get a fit if you get a new bike or have decided to train for a longer distance event such as a 70.3 or a 140.6. You want to make sure your body position it at its optimal place for hours in the saddle and to maximize your power.
Bicycle maintenance, equipment and a great fit are key essentials to set yourself up for a good racing season. Take the time to make sure your bike is in proper working order, that it is clean, and that you have the equipment you need.