Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Maintenance Plan

     Spring has finally sprung, and while many of us are wrapped up in Kleenex trying to keep from draining all of the fluids in our body out of our noses due to the pollen, there are other things we need to think about at athletes that need some attention come spring time!

       I've talked before about selecting new running shoes and making sure you're not using worn out equipment, but for multi-sport competitors, keeping our bikes in top shape is equally important- especially because it affects our safety as well as our performance!

      I bought my bike in the spring time, so I just happen to perform my yearly check-up and maintenance around the same time. Here are some tips for keeping up with your bike and making sure you're safe and effective out on the road!

Tune-Ups and Adjustments
          One of the reasons I bought my bike at Performance Bicycle  was the service that came with it. You get as many free LTA- Lifetime Tun-ups and Adjustments- as you want. This includes them adjusting brakes and gears, truing the wheels, tightening bolts, and a full safety inspection. They will also fit you on your bike for free, and adjust that fit when you add things such as aero bars for free. That's a huge savings over time, considering similar adjustments can cost $50 a pop at other shops. If you're able to fix and tune-up bikes yourself, this isn't a huge deal, but for me as someone who isn't quite there yet as far as fixing her own bike, it's a nice feature. You should be tuning your bike up and checking it for safety issues like loose bolts and worn down parts every few hundred miles!

Tires and Tubes
        The tires on a bike wear down just like the tires on your car, only much faster. I kept the tires that came with my bike on because frankly after spending a grand getting started, I figured I might as well use them instead of investing more in "better," ones. I got at least 2000 miles out of mine before, on my last trip to get an LTA, the bike mechanic refused to give me back my bike until I promised to buy new tires. I took a look and yea, I was definitely flirting with disaster on my back tire! Bald spots, scrapes, cuts in the rubber, no tread. I had eked every last mile out of them I could and he was positive I was due for a bad blowout. I did some google-ing and settled on Continental Grand Prix 4000 with Black Chili compound. I got a great price on them through a wholesaler thanks to a connection at my boyfriend's work, so I figured why not get a nicer tire. These have a long wear, but low rolling resistance, making them good for both training and racing. There are tons of articles out there about choosing tires, but this one is pretty good if you want to read more!

         This is a short, quick video that demonstrates what to look at when it comes time to change tires:

Change your Chain!
        Another thing people forget about is changing their chain. Yes, your chain on your bike is made of metal and very durable, however, you are constantly putting pressure on it, especially if you live somewhere with a lot of hills, and over time, the spaces between the links start to get larger. If you lets this go too long, you can really mess up the rest of your bikes gears and derailers, making what should have been a $30 replacement part in to a several hundred dollar repair. I got my chain checked at my tune-up and, like I suspected, I needed a new one.
       I bought a basic chain fit for my bike. Nothing fancy, because the only difference in chains is maybe a few grams of weight, and that's just not a major concern for me.

This is a short video showing you how to measure your chain wear with a tool. There are also ways to do it with a ruler if you need to!

These three things, chains, tires, and basic tune-ups are things you as a cyclist should have on your to-do list, and should keep up with to ensure your safety and the longevity of your bike's components! You invest a lot of money and time in to your bike, so don't let negligence make you have to spend more, or make cycling so costly you have to refrain from it. There are other things you should check up on as well every once in a while, and Bicycling Magazine has a great checklist for those here.

I am two weeks away from my first century ride, the Shiner GASP, and I feel much better knowing my bike is in great shape to take on the challenge!

Don't forget about my Reason 2 Race! Help out pets in need!

This blog is following my training as I get ready for the Athleta eSprit de She event season. Three events happen in Texas, the Duathlon in Dallasthe Katy 5k & 10k, and the Cycle Tour in Austin. I'll be doing Austin and Dallas, come join the fun! Enter Comp Code EDS57 for the chance to win some cool prizes!

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