In the previous episode, we covered alternates to training outdoors in the chilling winters. This episode is for the brave ones that want to #getoutandride even in the cold.
In this episode, we are going to cover basic safety and maintenance checks you can do yourself to your bicycle to keep riding in the winter. Let us start with reassuring you that your decision of winter riding isn’t a bad one after all. Winter training isn’t about getting race ready, it is about piling on your mileage and more importantly, about conditioning. You cannot afford to stay out of touch of your physical activity for a period as long as a few months. Being able to wake up every morning in the cold and damp weather makes you mind stronger and you will never crib about waking up on warmer days. The cold also enhances your lung capacity by quite an extent. Being on damp misty roads or tracks naturally enhances your bike handling skills. All said and done, there is just a different level of fun in starting off your ride with freezing fingertips and a trembling chin and finishing it with a warmed up body and a state-wide smile.
The drop in temperature can freeze up or harden lubrication like grease or chain lubes, so it is imperative to check parts that function in tandem with them. Check the headset for unusual amount of play or tightness. Lift the front wheel off the ground and try turning the handlebar in both directions to check if the stem is loose. Place the wheel on the ground, hold the front brake down and gently rock the handle back and forth to identify fork is seated correctly to the headset.
Brakes are very important and so is checking both brakes individually. For rim brakes, ensure that you check both contact patches, i.e the brake pad and the rims for any dust or gunk settled on them and clean them off promptly.
Do the above checks both before and after a ride with the addition of cleaning up your bicycle after the ride. Clean the frame by either dusting off or gently brushing off any debris stuck on it. Clean the rims and brake pads by dusting them with a mild brush. For disc brake bikes, dust away the disc rotors with nothing more than a clean dry rag (Cleanliness of the rag is very important, it shouldn’t have any kind of lubricant, dust, solvent or anything else on it. Failing to observe caution here can cause your brakes to fail)
Brush out the chain and wipe it down clean with a rag. After a thorough cleaning, lubricate the chain. At least one drop of lube on each roller is your measure, let the lube settle in for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess and shift through your gears a few times. There are a few season specific lubes available in the market which are great for winter maintenance, but if you aren’t able to get your hands on one or don’t want to, then keep in mind that the frequency of lubricating becomes important more than the quality of the lube. But i hope you are using only a lubricant manufactures specifically for bicycle chains.
There are a few modifications you might want to consider doing to your bikes.
One, the widely debated mudguard, slap them on or end up cleaning your bike more often. The choice is completely yours.
Two, winter tires on road bikes can come in real handy to enhance road grip and more importantly puncture resistance. But keep in mind, these come with slightly higher rolling resistance.
Three, Saddle bags or Frame Bags, Basically any kind of luggage solution for you to carry spare tubes and puncture patch kits or tools sets. It is one thing to be stranded with a flat in the summer, but a whole other story to stand with clattering teeth and no spares to fix your flat.
Four, If you do not already have lights on your machine, then get some. Days are a lot shorter in the winter and it can get easy to lose track of time and up getting stuck in the dark trail or alley.