BIKE TIPS: Get that machine ready!

Don't overhaul your bike the day before the ride! If anything needs work, get it done at least a week ahead of time to be sure it's working perfectly. Bike work isn't hard, and most people can learn simple bike mechanics (and even the black art of wheel truing) from a good book. But if you lack tools or confidence, make a bike shop appointment now!. Here's what to check:

Tires: Worn to the fabric? Cuts or bubbles? Treat your bike to new ones. And make sure the pressure is perfect.

Wheels: Hold the bike up and spin the wheels. They should be perfectly round with no wobble. There should be no dents or bulges at the braking surface to cause the brakes to grab.

Bearings: Wheel bearings, pedal bearings, crank bearings, headset (steering) bearings all should spin perfectly smoothly, with no roughness and no looseness and very little drag.

Brakes: Make sure the bike stops quickly and easily. Adjust hand brakes so the levers don't squeeze all the way to the handlebars. Be sure the brakes don't drag when the levers are released. Make sure the brakes operate smoothly. If you feel sticking or friction, carefully lubricate the brake pivots and cables. 

Chain: This is the time to clean it and lubricate it.

Shifters: Be sure you can get the exact gear you want, when you want it  On NEOC, you're going to need all of them!

Drive Train: Cranks should spin smoothly.  Nothing should be loose in the cranks or pedals. A "click" once per pedal revolution can be a sign of a big problem beginning soon!

Contact points and fit:  Be sure you've got no problems with your saddle, handlebar tape, gloves, shorts, or shoes. And be sure the bike is adjusted to fit you "by the book". Little annoyances can grow very big in 100 miles!

Miscellaneous: Pick the bike up six inches and bounce it on the pavement. Any rattles? Make sure everything on the bike is firmly attached, including bags, reflectors, water bottle and cage, pump, racks, fenders... everything.

OOPS!  Where did the time go?? Whoa! It's the night before the ride! No time for an overhaul now! Quick, be sure you at least:

Pump your tires - for easy rolling

Be sure your brakes don't drag. Nothing slows you worse than a dragging brake!

Be sure your brakes actually work! You know you're going to need them.

Be sure all your gears work.  Every one. Even the lowest one. Especially the lowest one!

Before You Leave - A Checklist

Did you remember to bring your:

  • Money?  
  • Map to the starting point?  
  • Registration form (if not pre-registered)?
  • Helmet?    
  • Bike shoes?    
  • Pump?    
  • Patch kit?    
  • Spare tube? 
  • Mirror?    
  • Water bottles?    
  • Tire irons and other tools?    
  • Sunscreen? 
  • Change of clothes for after the ride?  
  • Washcloth, to freshen up at the end?
  • Bike?    
  • Both wheels?  (The front one is easy to leave at home!)

Riding Tips - for a pleasant, successful ride

  • Drink Before You're Thirsty - Sip water often, at least 1 pint per hour
  • Eat Before You're Hungry - Snack often.  It's fuel for your muscles.
  • Pace Yourself  - Not too fast, especially at first, or you'll burn your legs out.
    • Not too slow, or you'll wear your butt out.
    • Ride your own best pace.
  • Spin - Don't push a high gear.  Downshift, spin easy.
  • Get Off the Saddle - Stand often, let blood circulate everywhere.
  • Stretch - On the bike and off the bike.  Especially, stretch your neck and shoulders.  Keep 'em loose.
  • Move your hands - to take the pressure off them.  
    • Use as many hand positions as you can invent!
  • Take a Break - Stop for a couple minutes each hour. 
    • Prop your legs up, massage them a bit
  • Flag a Sag - Stop a Sag Wagon if you need help

Safety Tips

  • Obey All Traffic Laws - including stop signs, traffic lights, right-turn-only lanes.
  • Ride on the Right -  Your bike is a vehicle!  Never ride facing traffic.
  • Watch for Road Hazards -  Gravel, glass, potholes, wet metal in the rain.
  • Avoid Amish Buggy Grooves!! - If your wheel touches one, it can throw you!!
  • Warn Other Riders -  Call out "Hole", "Glass", "Car Back", etc.
  • Don't Ride Too Close To Others - and NEVER let your wheels touch!
  • Ride Straight and Steady - and stay away from anyone who doesn't!
  • Use Hand Signals - Let folks know when you're slowing, stopping or turning.
  • Give Cars Room to Pass - unless the lane's too narrow to share.  Promote good will, please!
  • Pause Well Off the Road when resting, fixing flats, or studying maps.
  • Descend Hills Slowly Enough that you're well in control.
  • Ride Safely and Maturely. Your life, and our reputation, depend on it!