RU Ready to Ride?

Many times on a group ride a cyclist will have a flat or frequently we pass a cyclist in the process of switching out a punctured tube. Generally I hear a familiar call-out, “Do you have what you need?” I cannot bring myself to leave a fellow rider on the side of the road with an assumption that they actually have what they need, know how to change a flat, or  are able to fix their mechanical problem. I almost always pause to be sure they are really OK or lend my assistance.

When you leave home have you done your due diligence? Will you arrive in time to roll-out at the designated start time and will you be ready to ride the distance without requiring other cyclists to abort their ride or change their plans in order to lend assistance? I get the feeling that many cyclist’s eyes glaze-over when they hear reference to the ABC Quick Check. Is this too basic a function for you, an experienced cyclist, to pay attention to? Judging by the number of roadside assists I engage in, there may be need for review. Let us do a quick review of this process.


 Is for Air… Duh… you say. Well, I say this is an excellent place to start looking for quality in your ride. Actually, this is the last thing I do at night before retiring. (Pun intended) Checking your tires the night before a morning ride may prevent a delayed start or missing the ride completely due to a ‘garage flat’. Before your bike leaves the garage pump your tires to the inflation level indicated on the tires. Proper inflation is a key factor in avoiding pinch-flats or punctures from debris. A tire may lose 5-10 psi just hanging around over 24 hours. When you pump your tires also rotate the wheels slowly, while looking for side wall cracking,objects protruding from the tread, or cuts or bulges in the sidewalls. Besides the safety factor and the inconvenience of roadside repairs, you will enjoy longer tire life and a smoother and more effortless ride with proper inflation. If a tire has been inflated with a CO2 cartridge, air loss should be expected at a greater rate than air from a pump.


Is for brakes…..Or broken bones-if you are not able to make an emergent stop…. After you air-up your tires, give them a spin and verify that the brake pads are in close proximity to the rims, yet clear the rim. When brakes are applied they should not squeal out for attention. A light dusting with steel wool will clean away residual pad compound from the rim surface. If this does not eliminate the noise, a tweak to the tow-in of the pads should do the trick. A spin of the wheels will reveal any wobbles that indicate a bent rim or loose spokes that require re-truing. When the brake levers are squeezed with appropriate pressure, the brake pads should engage the rim with no less distance between the lever and the handlebars than one inch (or a thumb-width). Affirm that there is not excessive pad wear and that the pads are aligned with the brake surface of the rim and totally clear the tires. All brakes are not the same; disc brakes, hydraulic disc brakes, aluminum rims, and carbon rims have different characteristics and different functionality under different weather conditions.


Is for chain….(Cranks, cassette, cage)…. A chain that is caked with gunk is not a happy chain, and you do not want your chain to be unhappy! An angry chain will not shift well and will punish you with dirty hands when it slips off the chain gear. If you straddle your bike and receive a chain tattoo, it is time to clean and re-lube your drive-train. If you plan to ride on a regular basis, break-down and buy a work stand. This is an indispensable tool for cleaning and inspecting every inch of your bike even if you do not do your own repairs.


Quick Check…..(Also called a memory-check…..did you have any mysterious noises or malfunctions on your most recent ride?) Before you leave for your ride; jump on the bike and ride a block or two. Shift the gears, apply the brakes, and be sure you have working lights and no unexpected problems. OK, you only have one more check to go; open your seat bag and verify you have two spare tubes, two-three CO2 cartridges, a CO2 dispenser, two tire tools, a master link (that is appropriate to your 8,9,10,11 speed chain), a chain tool, and a handy-wipe or a pair of disposable gloves. Regardless of whether you can do your own roadside repairs or not- you will “have what you need” when compassionate assistance is offered.

Feel free to contact me with questions.  Otherwise, see you up the road.


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