Posted by: Heart of America News | November 2, 2017

Shower With Your Bike, and Other Helpful Tips

Off-Season Maintenance, Part One

by Ron Adkins, Heart of America Triathlon News


dscn5468-e1509630510189.jpgThe race season (in the Upper Midwest, at least) is in the books, and triathletes everywhere are looking forward to a good long rest period. Yet, even though you may want to store the gear away for off-season, don’t hang up the bike just yet.

The triathlete’s bike is arguably the most important (and by far the most expensive) piece of race equipment the athlete owns. Thaddeus Walters and Andy Brimeyer of Goldfinch Cyclery in Cedar Rapids say too often bikes come in to their shop that sat idle and ignored for months. A little preventative and ongoing maintenance saves a costly repair or replacement.

Thaddeus and Andy recommend taking your ride into a trusted cycle shop (preferably one that specializes in racing bikes) for a tune-up three times a year – before the season, at least once during, and very soon after the season ends.

“Think of it as the same as taking your car in for a regular oil and filter change,” says Andy. “It’s relatively easy and saves money and repair in the long term. Most places offer good deals in the dead of winter.”

If you prefer to do your own maintenance, Andy and Thaddeus point out some important things to remember:

Make sure the quick-release gears and all bolts are tightened. Don’t be stingy with the chain lubricant.

Give the bike a good wash before it is stored for off-season, and after every 200 miles during the season. Sweat is corrosive, and if not removed, the salts and acids in sweat gradually do big damage.

“It’s not uncommon to see bearings and other parts rusted out from sweat dripping down, or from being covered by a sweaty towel,” says Thaddeus. “But please, please don’t wash the bike with a power washer,” he adds. “A little mild degreasing soap and a soft rinse is all it takes.”

If weather permits some winter training time, pay very close attention to tire pressure. This is crucial in the colder months. Just as with your car, fluctuations in temperature cause air to leak from tires. Snow plows tend to chew up roads and streets, so be conscious of wear and the overall condition of the tires, as well.

Road salt and sand are the biggest off-season enemies to bicycles. They can chew up metal parts, brakes, brake pads, and wheels surprisingly fast. Again, attention to detail and a good wash will help fend off any costly damage.

“If your spouse is nice, take your bike with you when you shower,” jokes Thaddeus.

“We’re seeing a lot more cyclists coming in for regular tune-ups,” continues Andy. This trend, he adds, reflects what he has been reading in triathlon and industry publications – that there is a change in attitude among triathletes toward diligent preventative maintenance.

Thaddeus hopes this trend continues – not only for the sake of the bike, but for the safety of the rider. “I want to see triathletes treat their bicycles the same as they treat their body. Keep it in good shape, put some miles on it regularly, and get in for a checkup.”

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