What a fun winter we’ve had, right? Zwift, fatbikes, and skiing. And Snow! But that stuff doesn’t really compare to the joy of riding outside in warm weather, i.e. not in or on snow. With the first day of Spring just behind us, that warm weather will soon be here. I’m here to give you the necessary information to make your first outdoor Spring foray enjoyable.
Before we jump back on the bike we should check to make sure that it is in good functioning order. I hate to do this to you, but I’m going to teach you how to do this the same way I teach elementary schoolers. Before every ride, we need to check our ABCs:
A – Air
B – Brakes
C – Chain
Make sure your tires are within the recommended pressure range and not too dry, old, cracked, or worn. If your tires are too worn out, you won’t have enough traction either on pavement or dirt and you are more likely to get a flat.
Also, if your brakes don’t stop you, you won’t have a very safe ride. This is the most important part to check before you go for the first ride of the year. If you don’t check and you’ve got brakes that can’t stop you, something else will…I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Then, make sure your chain is clean, lubricated, and quiet. If it’s rusty, keeps dropping off your chainrings, or makes a ton of noise, it either needs repair or replacing. This is also the time to make sure your bike shifts gears properly.
Bonus: Check to make sure your handlebars aren’t loose and that your stem bolts are properly torqued. Inspect your quick release skewers to make sure they are tightly closed.
If you are unsure of your bike’s condition, bring it to the shop. We can resolve many small issues while you wait and quickly identify safety concerns. If you do need a tune up, try to beat the rush by bringing your bike in before the weather gets too nice. Our service only gets busier from April until August. Come in early and make sure you don’t miss out on riding time.
The bike may be ready, but are you? Did your New Year’s Resolution fall through by January 2nd? Eat too much candy? Drink too much beer? Riding can help with that! But, it is important to make sure your body is ready to ride before you reap the ride’s health benefits.
If you can’t touch your toes, you might not want that saddle-to-bar drop on your road bike to be so severe. Maybe you’ve got some tightness in your neck and back, so the downhill runs at Boyne should be out of the question until you feel better. Before you get going 100%, you’ve got to shake out the rust, not necessarily at Rust Shaker (which sadly has no singlespeed category). Your first ride of the season doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Take it easy, stretch, eat right, and sleep well. Don’t overdo it too quickly and get injured.
Take stock of your riding gear. Your helmet, shoes, riding shorts, and gloves all have a useable lifetime. During the peak riding season many riders don’t take the time to check their gear or live with sub-par performance. Additionally, it’s nice to break in new gear, especially shoes, when you mileage is lower.
It is recommended that you replace your helmet every 3-4 years, even if you haven’t had any crashes. This is due to the degradation of the foam and the likely weakening caused by drops and other small impacts. Also, most helmets have an impervious stink after a few seasons. If this applies to you, start fresh!
Many times in my riding life, I have not felt like going for a ride. I’ve physically felt good, the bike was immaculate, the weather was perfect, but I didn’t want to go.
“My mind is telling me no. But my body. My body’s telling me yes.” -R. Kelly
Sometimes we have to take a page out of R. Kelly’s book and just go for a ride. Even if work sucks, everyone hates us, and nothing is going right, going for a nice, easy spin can put us in a positive mood. Oftentimes, I find a ride to be an extremely meditative experience, similar to running and even transcendental meditation (both of which I have done extensively). I guarantee you’ll feel better by the end of the ride.
However, if your mind says no, body says no, bike says no, and weather says no, just take the day off riding. Do something else fun. You might have taken the entire winter off riding. One more day off won’t hurt.
In summary make sure mind, body, and
soul bike are ready before you go out for this first ride of spring. If you are not ready yet, you don’t have to be. But in my opinion messy spring roads are better than busy summer roads, and I’d love to see you out riding.