It’s almost time to rumble and the roads are getting ‘safe-ish’ - it’s time to get your number 1 chum out of moth-balls and onto the open road for some proper big road cycling. However, if you have been cycling indoors for the winter months it is as well to get your machine looked at, tweaked and tinkered with before the off.Her are our 'top tips'.
• Avoid the DIY and just book your bike into the shop. By all means have a look at the chain, tyres, saddle yourself but if you intend to do some serious cycling this spring, summer, autumn please don’t take any chances just get it in and fixed. Nobody is more unpopular in the peloton than the man who has a broken chain in the middle of rural France and is 100 km from the nearest bike shop.
• Check your tyres: Have a very good look at them. If
they are brittle throw them away immediately and get new ones. If they are as soft and smooth as a baby’s bum - ditto. There’s nothing more dangerous than bald tyres in the rain except two people with bald tyres in the rain.
• Chain: If the chain has become slightly rusty, a chain cleaner, followed by a few drops of chain oil will reactivate stiff links. However, I would take no chances here and just get a new one when you get an annual service.
• Brakes: Definitely do not fiddle about with this stuff. One day you may be hurtling down the Ventoux at 50 mph and you will need to have the utmost confidence in
your steed. Under no circumstances trust these life-defining moments to a little DIY moment in your garage. If you really want stopping power just trade up to disc-brakes - you will never look back
• Gears (see brakes): You are allowed to touch the little knobbly bit and adjust to one or two quarter turns but certainly no more. These things belong to the dark arts and no-one but a bike scientist should be allowed to interfere with them
• Lights: Make sure that a) you have some b) they work c) you have spares. A ‘get-you-home’ set will cost you £20. When disembarking from a ferry at the ‘crack of sparrows’ into rural France it is often quite useful to be able to see what’s in front of you.
• Cleaning: This barely needs saying because naturally our loved one is always kept clean, buffed and dirt-free. However, if you are one of those recalcitrant degenerates who has neglected your bike over the winter months the only one to blame when your bottom bracket seizes up in the middle of nowhere is you.
• Kit: helmets, cleats, gloves, glasses, gusset in
shorts all need checking for wear and tear - if in doubt - eject.
• Accessories: check the accompanying kit is in good nick as well e.g. replacement inner tubes, tyre levers, a fully articulating pump, tools, spare links, mould-free water bottles etc. Remember if stuff breaks in the middle of nowhere- no-one can hear you scream
Be careful out there!