For all but the very hardiest of us, cycling tends to be a summer sport so, as we enjoy the first signs of spring, it’s time to dust down the lycra and make sure that you and your bike are in peak condition, ready for the season’s cycling, writes Tony Booth of All Terrain Cycles in Wetherby.
To start make sure that your bike is in top condition, not only for optimum performance and to prolong its life, but also to ensure safety. If your bike has been standing in a damp garage over the winter months, it may be suffering from a flat tire or a dry chain and now is the best time to get it tuned and ready to go.
If you’ve invested in a decent bike, it’s worth taking it to a trained mechanic and getting them to give it a good check at least once a year - this may save money by cutting the need to replace components prematurely.
A professional service at a reputable bike shop usually includes adjusting or replacing brakes; checking the gear indexing; inspecting wheels and tyres; changing cables; checking the headset and frame; and degreasing and re-lubing moving parts. All of this will give a smoother, more energy-efficient ride as well as preventing bigger mechanical problems.
Once your bike has been fettled by an expert, keep it in good working order by making sure it is cleaned thoroughly after every ride – wipe the tyres and rims, check for flints, inspect the brake blocks and lube the chain. It’s also fairly easy to keep the bike in good working order by investing in basic repair and maintenance tools and doing a little DIY servicing.
Also, carry out a check of all safety accessories and ‘on board’ essentials – are your front and rear lights working; is your tire fixing kit complete; do you have enough water bottles? Have a look at your kit – do you have both your cycle gloves; is your helmet adjusted; have your cycle socks disappeared; and are your cleats caked up with mud?
Having ensured that your bike and accessories are in a safe and optimal condition, are you confident that your bike has been set up correctly for you? In recent years riders who want to get the best from their bike, in terms of performance and comfort, have been turning to professional bike fitting. Making sure that your bike is correctly adjusted for your body proportions and cycling goals can also avoid injury after many hours in the saddle.
At a bike fit, a trained technician will spend two or three hours looking at your current bike set up, your riding style, your individual measurements and your body composition. With your bike mounted on a turbo trainer, you’ll be put through your paces with every aspect analysed from the perfect positioning of the cleats on your shoes to correct reach, handlebar width and height, saddle position and even knee over pedal spindle! Using a state-of-the-art jig, the technician will be able to easily adjust the rider/bike interface in order to more accurately custom fit the bicycle to the needs of the rider.
Remember, if you haven’t been in the saddle for a few months, take it slowly. Build up gradually and include increasingly longer rides. Also take time to get used to being on two wheels again, particularly in terms of traffic .
And then there’s the most fun part of preparing for the season ahead, get down to your local bike retailer and stock up on the latest gadgets and gizmos to improve your comfort and enjoyment – not to mention making your cycling friends jealous.
From powerful LED lights to a high tech bike computer, there’s plenty for the cycling enthusiast to choose from. And don’t forget to pour over the very latest lycra outfits which will make sure you’re noticed when you’re leading the pelaton.