SPRING – a time when birds are chirping, bees are buzzing, flowers blooming and with the snow now melted (mostly?), our thoughts turn back to hitting the pavement. Now that your outdoor workout does not include snow shoveling, it’s time to bike the trails.
Has your bicycle been in storage all winter, along with your accessories, gear, clothing… and your cycle workout? Before you go all out on your first big ride, here are some things you should do to get in order:
Your bike: give your trusty stead some attention before you go on that epic spring ride!
- Check the tires for worn tread, nicks from sharp stones or glass from the road. Inspect the sidewalls for cracks, dry rot or cuts. And, of course, check the air pressure. At the very least, you’ll need to do some inflating. Or it could be time for replacements.
- Run through the gears to check for smooth shifting. Make sure the chain moves without any skips or stiff spots, and listen for any clicking, popping, or grinding noises, which can indicate drivetrain issues. If you notice a “ka-chunk!” when pushing hard on your pedals, then it is time for a new chain.
- Inspect the cables for rust or fraying and the cable housing for cracking or sharp bends. Give your brake levers a squeeze, and quickly release them. They should snap back with nice quick force. If your cables and housing don’t pass these tests, they should be replaced. Fresh cables will do wonders for brake and shifting performance.
- Examine the brake pads for wear – if the rubber is worn up to (or past) the slots or wear lines, or if it is old, hard or has debris embedded in it, it is time for new ones.
- Get into your favorite local bike shop early to repair or replace anything you may notice (any perhaps things you missed). A trusty bike mechanic is your best friend when it comes to safety and performance on the road. Get in early, and you won’t miss that first perfect weather ride.
Your gear: whether you wear it on your back or your bike, make sure it still does the job!
- Inspect your accessories: visibility is crucial for safety on the road, so make sure your front and rear lights are working and that your bell still sounds with authority. Speaking of safety, check your helmet for proper fit; those straps may need adjusting after sitting in storage. And check the supplies in your flat-fixing kit if you carry one.
- Check your cycling clothes for fit, holes or missing pieces. While losing one sock may not stop your ride plan, one missing glove could send you to the store. Are the grippers on your shorts now letting go? Find out before o’dark’thirty when you’re heading out for the first group ride of the season.
- Integrate your apps: new ways to measure your ride, your fitness and your health are being developed and fine-tuned almost daily. Whether you’re tracking mileage on a bike computer, calories or energy spent on a Fit-Bit, or your route via GPS, be sure you’re tech is current and portable.
Your Self: hitting the road on your bike often doubles or triples the extent of your regular workout (at least!). Make sure your body, heart and head are ready for the change.
- Build gradually. Your first couple rides should be shorter and slower, in low-traffic areas to get your body and mind acclimated to the streets, the trails and the change in routine. Tackle small hills, pace yourself and don’t struggle to keep up with riders at a faster pace. Going too fast, too hard, too soon may result in pulled muscles or worse.
- Work pedaling into your regular routine: try changing your work commute to a bike-commute (very green!), or adding a weeknight or early morning training ride to your schedule. The more time you spend in the saddle the quicker you’ll adapt to it.
- Prep your muscles. Your legs are the engine that powers your bicycle; stretch and strengthen them off the bike and you’ll be thanking them while you ride. Regular workouts with your ShinTekk will add strength to your lower legs that you won’t be able to get with any other equipment. Through the resisted dorsiflexion (that toe-tapping move), you’ll acquire the power to pull up through the pedal stroke, keeping your stride even and balanced and avoiding strains to your calves.
Once you’ve finished the once-over for your bike, your gear and yourself, you should be ready and more than willing and able to get outside and ride. Just one last piece of advice: have FUN!