Gearing Up for Cycling Season

Fast Bike

Photograph by Flickr User Martin Cathrae

For many Adirondack cyclists it’s blacktop, not crocuses, that announces the coming of spring. As roads are swept of sand and salt and frost heaves subside, wide shoulders look so promising. When the skis and snowshoes head for storage it’s time to bond with your bike.

If you’re one of those natural mechanics chances are your machine just needs a once-over with a dust cloth and some lube in strategic places at winter’s end. But if you shelved your cycle in a rush after a damp, gritty November trip, you’ll want to check it out thoroughly, think about what wasn’t in great working order last time and apply some elbow grease.

Rick’s Bike Shop, in Queensbury, offers an excellent pre-ride checklist. The steps are simple: scrutinize your frame (chipped paint may indicate a structural crack), clean your wheels (gunk on the rims can impede proper braking), inspect cables and check tire pressure. One very effective and satisfying task is cleaning your chain, which can be done with a rag and household cleaner like Simple Green.

Restoring your bike to something bright and shiny is the first part of the deal if you want good performance throughout the coming months. Pedals & Petals, in Inlet, suggests putting this checklist on your workbench. The sheet reminds you how and when to do basic jobs that keep your bike safe and sound, from simple things after every outing to annual chores.

For some of us, though, WD40 and a wrench can be implements of destruction. If you fall into that category or have original air in your tires, a professional tuneup in late March or April is money very well spent, $35 and up for the service at shops like Mountainman Outdoor Supply, Placid Planet and Wooden Ski & Wheel. A total overhaul—truing the wheels, replacing the cables, greasing the hubs and stripping the bike down to its bare essentials—ensures all systems are go and, at $170, costs way less than a new bike.

You’ll also want to make sure your helmet is free of squirrel nests and your shorts, socks and gloves are broken in but not broken down. One more step as you prepare to head out this spring is to select a slew of rides that take you and your bicycle to new country, with hills, valleys and vistas, many on the Adirondack scenic byways roster. For more ideas see the routes suggested in “Tandem Acts,” from our 2010 Annual Guide to the Great Outdoors.

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