Now that Spring is upon us, as soon as the hail and snow stops, the hard core cyclists are been joined by those who gave winter riding a miss. Don’t jump right in as if you have been riding faithfully throughout the winter or you will be walking funny tomorrow, maybe even for a few days. Some push it hard the first time out and then don’t ride again until summer finally shames them back onto their bikes. Make sure your bike is road worthy, start slow, keep the hills to a minimum, stretch before you start and make sure you take water and a snack along with you on your ride.
My advice is to develop a “Getting back into it Plan”. First ride, keep it to an hour or two on a ride you know, surprises on your first day back can set you back. Have a plan that will expand your ride over a month so that after, say five, rides you are taking on maybe twice the ride you started with.
If your bike has been resting in the shed all winter you should ensure the following:
1. Check your tire pressure. Most mountain bike tires need a minimum of forty pounds of air. Some road bikes need even more. If you’re going to do this at the local gas station be careful. A moment’s distraction and everyone around you will be ducting for cover thinking a gang shoot out is starting when you explode your tube. A good rule of thumb, you should be able to squeeze the sidewall slightly and your pressure should be ok.
2. Check out your chain. A drop or two of oil and then run it through all the gears a few times should lube it just fine. If it doesn’t shift into every gear then you may need to visit your local bike shop and have a tune up. Cables do stretch.
3. Check out your breaks. Again cables stretch and if you can squeeze the brake levers more than half way towards the handlebars you may need an adjustment.
4. Spin your tires. Watch your wheels; if they are wobbling you may need a wheel truing.
5. Check your headset. Turn your handlebars to line up with your frame and rock your bike with some pressure on your handle bars. Watch for play in your headset, there should be none. Don’t confuse movement in your front shocks, they are supposed to move. If there is movement visit your local bike shop.
6. Check your bottom bracket. Grab both petals and rock them back and forth. There should be no play in it either. If there is movement visit your local bike shop.
7. Finally check your helmet. Look for cracks or flaws that might weaken it just when you need it most. Go over the straps as sometimes they get unaligned and it will help with comfort if you take the time to straighten them out now.
At Fraser River Bike Tours & Rentals we have the solution to all of the above. Get a season’s pass. For $199.00 you get a high end bike, tuned and checked out, with good sterilized helmet and even raingear, whenever you need it from March to November. For a family it is only $399.00 for as many bikes, trailer bikes, trailers and gear that you need when you need it. No more storage hassles, no more loading them on to you poor car and no more finding that flat just before the family ride. Or just rent one whenever you wish.
But however you do it get out there and ride. If you are in the lower mainland (Vancouver) area check out our cycling map at www.fraserriverbiketours.com. Other great rides are the Poco Trail in Port Coquitlam, the Pitt River Greenway in Pitt Meadows, the dykes around Boundary Bay or if you are brave and can handle bicycle grid lock the Stanley Park Seawall.
My favorite is the Queensborough Loop and I guide community rides around it each Saturday and Sunday in the Spring, we add two evening rides midweek in the summer. If you have your own bike there is no charge to join us (just put a tip in our starving guides tip box) and if you need a bike we take you along for just the cost of the rental ($20.00 for two hours). We take you at your own pace and ensure that you get a great ride in. You’ll have amazing scenery, see eagles, salmon and sea lions and all of it on
a dedicated bike trail that follows the Fraser River around the tip of Lulu Island and back.
Spring has sprung, so get out there and start your season off with a great ride.
Do it now!