Spring Biking Tips
Starting biking in the Okanagan is a wonderful thing after the winter. This article will provide some tips on how to safely transition to spring time biking.
Tune-up your bike:
If you put your bike in storage without a fall tune-up your bike will need some checking and adjusting. You can either take your bike to a local bike store or, if you are competent and you have the tools, tune it up yourself.
A Tune up should include:
Tire inflation to the correct PSI (check the sidewall and then adjust for your weight/riding style).
Test the shifting.
Check brake pads/rotors for wear. Ensure that the brakes pull to close evenly without rubbing and that there is good power.
Lubrication of chain and jockey wheels.
Visual inspection of the frame for cracks, etc.
Bolt Check. Check that all the bolts are still tight (a torque wrench designed for bikes is a great investment, especially for a bike with carbon fibre components). You never want to experience a handlebar loosening on a downhill! Also check that the quick release or bolts on the wheels are properly adjusted.
Check that the rubber on your tires is in good condition i.e. there is no cracking or significant loss of tread.
Clean your bike, especially the drive train.
Consider replacing your chain and or cassette (gears). These components wear together and if they are too worn you will need to replace both. If you replace the chain often enough (depending on how much you ride) you can get by with replacing only that component.
If you ride with clipless pedals, check the cleat and replace if worn. Also replace the bolt that holds the cleat onto the shoe if they are starting to wear down.
Check your comfort:
If you had discomfort on your bike last year or you are riding a new bike, get your bike properly fitted for you. If you had discomfort last year, it will probably return again this year once you start to increase the length of your rides. A thorough bike fit should include an examination of your flexibility and strength, as well as your position on the bike and pedalling technique. Addressing the muscle impairments, pedalling technique and adjustments to the bike will make a huge difference in comfort.
Start Slow and Spin:
Make sure to build up your kilometres in a gradual fashion even when the sun is shining. Pick a distance or length of time roughly half or your usual ride from the previous year and build on that. A 10% increase in riding time per ride is a good rule of thumb. Make sure you redevelop your spin, aiming for 90+ RPM’s on the flats. Focus on trying to make completes circles with your legs. Pay attention so that each leg is working the same. Avoid a lot of big hills to start to avoid over stressing your knees
Check your helmet:
There doesn't seem to be a consensus on when to replace your helmet. Some helmet companies recommend every three years, other companies have no recommendations. Personally, I replace my helmet every three years as buying a helmet is a small price to pay for a healthy head! All the companies will agree that a helmet should replaced after a crash where you hit your head. At all times the helmet should fit properly according to the company’s user manual. I hate to see both and adults and kids wearing helmets that don't fit properly and are essentially useless in a crash. Buy the lightest helmet you can afford to take the load off your neck.
Invest in bike shorts:
Yes, that chamois does wear out and get thin. I am a huge fan of great shorts even if you have a great seat. Invest in the best shorts you can afford!