An adage goes that, “Success happens when Preparation meets opportunity”. This maxim is true and applicable to all things. Every cyclist, whether professional or amateur, knows too well that it is only a foolish soldier who sharpens his sword on the battlefield.
It is therefore a primary precondition for every cyclist to prepare their bicycles before every cycling adventure. In this discourse, we shall look at various forms of preparation that a bicycle needs to go through in order to guarantee optimum results on the field.
Why bicycles need preparation
Before we get deep into the forms of preparation, it is important for us to find out the reasons behind the preparation of bicycles ahead of a cycling event. First, not all bicycle owners use their bicycles on a daily or regular basis. This in particular applies to non professional bicycle owners who use motor vehicles during the week and only turn to their bikes occasionally e.g. on weekends. This means that the bikes will have gathered dust, run out of lubrication and may have a little bit gotten out of order by the time their owners get back to them. This therefore makes it necessary for the bicycle to be prepared for whatever cycling event or program ahead.
Before starting the preparations, get to the right site
Preparing a bicycle for a major cycling event is not a ride in the park. It is a greasy and dirty affair. This means that you need to carry out the entire process in a designated place, and mostly a garage where dirt and dirty oil are a part of the game. On top of that you will also need to carry a few basic tools to help you in the process. Such tools will include screw drivers, sledge hammers, pliers, pressure pump, spanners and etc.
Tires are a vital component to any bicycle because they are the once that will get your bike moving. Before you embark on any ride you have to check the condition of the tires to find out whether they are in good shape. First, you need to check the grip or friction level of the tires to ensure that they can ride well on the road surface you are going to ride on. Second, you have to check if the tires have any punctures.
Once you have done this and proved that everything is in order, then you can move to other parts. If told the tires have punctures or they have lost friction, then you need to consider replacing the tires or fixing them. This is necessary because it will save you unnecessary loss of time trying to fix a flat tire and also possible accidents that may risk your own life.
Check the tubes and ensure that they are in good shape
Once you are done with the tires, it is now time to check the inner tubes. Check the tubes to ensure that they do not have any punctures. Should it turn out that they have any punctures then you need to replace or repair them, depending on the degree of the puncture. You need to establish all this at this stage in order to avoid the same issues that you will encounter will defective tires, that is, the possibility of ending up with a flat tire and possible accidents that could as well pose a threat to your life.
Rims are part and parcel of the wheels. With proper tubes and tires in place, you may still end up in problems if the rims are not in the right condition. Check them thoroughly for any defects because they are the ones which will hold the tires and tubes in place. Weak rims will end you with a flat tire along the road. This means that you will end up wasting time trying to fix them and if you happen to be participating in a competition, then you can be sure that you will cause a ripple of multiple accidents affecting other innocent cyclists and risking their lives as well.
Check the wheel pressure
By clearing with the three steps above it means that the wheels are in the right condition.Now it is time to check the pressure levels.Once you have approved the condition of the wheels,you can now go on and pump the wheels to the right level in preparation for cycling.You do not need to pump them to be rock-hard but just enough for the occasion.
Check out the pedals
These are vital parts of your bike. Even if every other thing were fine,you cannot possibly ride your bike without them. Make sure that they are tightly bolted and they are spinning smoothly. Fix any issues on time because they are the ones you will need to test-ride the bike.
Check, test and clean the chain
The chain is just as important as the wheels and pedals. You can’t ride your bike without it. Once you are through with wheels and pedals it is time to check the condition and smooth movement of the chain. Place your bike in the right position and use your hand to spin the rear wheel back and forth. If it is defective then get it fixed either through repair or replacement. But if it is in good shape then move on to the next step: cleaning.
Once you are content that the chain is in right shape, take a rag in your left hand and tightly hold it to the bottom of the chain. Using your right hand, start to pedal the bike backwards but in a gentle manner as you apply some light pressure on the chain using the rag. This will cause any debris and oil accumulated on the chain to fall off.
Spin and clean the wheels
Once you are through with the pressure you need to test how the wheels are spinning. Spin them back and forth to ensure that they are in their right condition. Go on and wipe them to make sure that there are no debris or any form of junk attached to them.
Check the condition of the brakes
Brakes are a vital part of any bicycle. They are, in fact, the bicycle’s main safety gear and hence they should be given priority. When the brakes are in good shape you will be able to control the bike as you ought to. A defective braking system means you are like a person being driven by the wind and you risk incurring unncessary accidents.
Check out in particular the condition of the brake pad and the lever because it is the engine of the braking system. Go on and try to spin the bike’s wheels and stop them using the brakes so as to be dead sure that they are working smoothly and effectively. If there are any issues, then go on and fix them either by yourself or by taking the bike to the nearest bike shop.
Check the saddle
This is another important part of the bike that has to be in good shape before you embark on any cycling adventure. Check the saddle by twisting it around so as to make sure that is firm enough to hold you throughout the entire cycling session. If this is not done, then you are most likely to have the saddle coming off along the way.
These are other tricky parts that need to be fixed before any cycling event. Carry out a thorough check to make sure that every bolted part is tightly held so that those parts do not come off along the way. Tighten every loose bolt and contact point and replace any bolt that may not be worn out.
Check the handlebars and stem
These are vital components that give you primary control over the bicycle.You need to test these parts by tightly grasping the bike’s front wheel in between your knees.While doing so,make sure that there are no movements.Go ahead and try lifting the front end using the handle bars and tapping the front wheel on the ground in order to make sure that the headset is tight enough.You also need to do the same for the rear wheel so as to guarantee that there is nothing loose that will bring issues as you cycle.
Check out the water bottle holder
Since water is your only refreshment as you engage in cycling, it is necessary that you check out your bicycle’s water bottle holders. Make sure that it is not loose so that you do not end up dropping your water bottles along the way.
Check and test the lights
Functional lights are not just important parts of a bicycle. They are also a statutory requirement. They are there to guarantee safety during poor visibility such as night or fog. The purpose of this is two-way: to make sure that you can see other road users properly and also allow other road users to see you both from behind and from the front.
You need to make sure that the lights are working properly so that you also guarantee your own safety as a rider and the safety of other road users. If they turn out to be defective, you need to replace them soon before embarking on the next cycling event.
Check out the horn system
Make sure that the horn is working properly. This is intended to make sure that the safety of other road users is guaranteed.This will also keep you from getting into trouble with the stubborn “ass” called the law!
Just like all other machines,you need to keep your bike well greased and oiled before embarking on a cycling adventure.You have to make sure that all the bike parts that need oiling have been oiled.All the bolts and contact points,chain,brakes and every part that needs oiling has to be well greased in order to guarantee easy mobility and also protect them from rusting.
Check the mudguards
No rider who takes out to the roads expects to have a mud bath. Mudguards are a good safety tool to keep you from being splattered with mud. Check them to make sure that they are in their proper positions and in their proper functional condition. If they are not in order you may need to adjust them or replace them.
Carry out the final test-ride
After you are through with all the checking and fixing procedures,it is now time for you to take the final stage of preparation.Get the bike out for a short ride in order to ascertain how it will behave on the road.You may need to carry out the “road test” in similar conditions that you are preparing for.For instance,if the cycling event will take place at night or on rough roads, take time and do a sample ride just to be dead sure that all the preparations you have been making will not go to waste. The logic behind all this is simple: you are preparing for cycling and hence that is the end of the entire process of preparation.
The importance of this test ride is pegged to the fact that it is the only way to detect any hidden defect that could have escaped your attention from the start.So you have the last chance to make the last adjustments before the big day.
After every preparation stage has been successful and has been certified, you now need to clean your bike as you await the cycling event. Wash every part slowly, carefully and step-by-step. Once you are through with the washing you can let it dry and wipe it. Go on and get the bike in its proper storage place as you wait for the anticipated day to come.
With all the above preparations in place,you can go ahead and have sweet sleep as you dream about the success you have prepared for.