Getting Your Gear in Gear

By Trevor Gunderson

What a winter!!  Enough said?  It’s almost time to clean off the dust, or get your bike off the wind trainer, and start to explore your favorite roads. I always look forward to seeing what new construction has occurred at the fringes of the city over the past 5 months of being locked up inside. So let’s talk about what you should do before you get out onto the open road. 

Even if you have been using your road bike on the trainer there are some important  maintenance items that you should take the time to do before you unleash all of your pent up watts on the road.  I will focus on two categories: the bike and contact points. 

Let’s take a look at what you should do for the contact points between you and the bike.  One point that should not be over looked, if you choose to use one, is your heart rate strap.  I find that mine gets mucked up with sweat and bodily anger so it’s a good idea to clean off the strap and plastic sensor that touches your skin.  Taking an old tooth brush with a bit of hot water and soap works best to scrub clean the hard plastic sensor.  The stretchy strap that goes around your back can be cleaned with a bit of hand soap and a rinse.  Now would also be a good time to replace the battery if you’re able to.  Some straps don’t allow for battery replacement but now is the best time to change out the old one if you can.

I would also do an inspection of your cycling cleats and shoes.  Cycling shoes do wear out so it might be time to get new shoes. However, if your shoes are fine, make sure that your cleats look fresh and in good shape.  Worn cleats are a $20 fix for most pedal systems.  Cleats are the only connection between your bike and your legs so make sure that the bolts are tight and there are no cracks or worn out points on the surface of the cleat.  As for shoes, comfort is key.  If your shoes don’t fit, or you’ve logged three or more seasons in them, don’t wear them.

Have you ever seen a pro with dirty or worn bar tape?  I sure haven’t.  Fresh bar tape is cheap and makes your bike look new again and having fresh tape states that you care about your bike.  More importantly, fresh tape equals more comfort.

Short of a major overhaul on your bike, there are a few things that you should do that can keep your bike running smooth.  Check your tires for cuts and wear.  Old tires don’t roll as well and are more susceptible to flats.  I would suggest changing both front and rear tires with some good quality rubber.  Everyone is always talking about the new gear that can save them watts but few people look at tires as a major contact point for power savings.  Some tires are better than others and there is enough data on the web to make an informed decision as to what is best for you.  However, fresh rubber is faster than worn rubber so change your tires and make sure that you always keep them inflated to the right pressure.  I pump my tires before EVERY ride! 

Now would be a good time to freshen up your drive train. Chains and cassettes tend to wear together so it makes sense to install a new set at the same time.  Make sure the rear cassette meets your fitness ability, so buy accordingly.  Unless your are sprinting at 60km/h+ it doesn’t make sense to have a cassette with an 11 tooth cog.  By getting a cassette with a 12 tooth cog, it allows you to have one extra cog on the cassette that you may use more often.  A popular combination is a 12×25 as it has a nice range and not too many gaps that will keep you from shifting unnecessarily. 

Finally, check and replace any other sensor batteries that are on your bike.  Most speed and cadence sensors will allow for a battery replacement so now is the time to make sure that you will never lose any data as a result of a dead battery.

These tips should keep you, and your bike, rolling smoothly for the coming season.

Trevor Gunderson
Carrera Performance Coaching
trevor@thebikeage.com

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