A Good Warrior Lovingly Tends to Their Steed

Your bike has faced a long period of neglect in the basement this winter, and if you’re like me, you’ve probably shamefully used your fair-weather pleasure machine as an impromptu drying rack. After removing the moldering socks you thought you lost, it’s tempting to ignore the possibility that your bike may need some mechanical attention before hitting the roads.

If you want to be a road warrior in 2017, it starts with a spa treatment for your noble steed.

It’s best to give your bike to your local mechanic before the warm weather arrives, for two reasons:

  • Most people don’t think to have their bike serviced in February or March, and your mechanic will be able to do a better job in less time since…
  • Everyone and their mother wants their bike serviced after the first bout of warm weather arrives.

If you’re gunning for a high mileage season, ask your mechanic to perform a complete drivetrain overhaul. Your chain may be stretched and other components may be worn, and mile 50 of your 100-mile ride is not an opportune moment to discover these issues.

If you have some DIY blood in you, don’t skip the tune up, but conduct your own evaluation to augment the process:

  1. Inspect your tires – Check for excessive wear, cracking, malformities, and sidewall damage.
  2. Inspect your brake pads – how much material is left until you reach the wear line?
  3. Shifting – Is your shifting smooth in both directions?
  4. Cabling – Do your shifter and brake cables look shiny and smooth? If they are dull or rusty, it’s time for replacement.

A Good Warrior Knows What to Pack

To earn the status of a road warrior, you must pack like one. A good warrior is forward thinking and reasonably prepares for as many situations as possible, knowing that Murphy’s law is just as predictable as gravity and cheap Mexican food.

  1. Always carry a seat post bag with a tube, irons, and CO2 cartridges – flats are a warrior’s #1 enemy, but with all the right equipment, this event becomes more of a mild nuisance then a ride-ending tragedy.
  2. Carry a multitool – A high quality multitool will be able to make any adjustment on your bike, and will includes several allen wrenches, screwdrivers and a chain breaker.
  3. Stash away reflective gear and a blinker in the event you get trapped at dusk

A Good Warrior Knows What Armor to Wear

A true road warrior knows how to play great defense. The road has inherent risks, but these risks can be easily mitigated.

  1. Always wear bright, florescent clothing when you ride – the more obnoxious, the better.
  2. Inspect your helmet – look for cracks, dents, pieces of missing foam. An old and/or damaged helmet will not offer you the same protection as a newer one.
  3. Install a bike mirror – having a mirror is one of the best ways to increase your awareness of vehicles on the road. Mirrors can either be attached to your handlebars or your helmet. Once you become used to having a mirror, you’ll feel naked without one.
  4. Get in the habit of wearing glasses – not only should you be protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays, a cyclist needs to be aware of physical airborne hazards, such as sand, bugs, and projectiles from passing vehicles.

A Good Warrior Always Trains

A road warrior knows that consistent training yields the best results and greatest satisfaction. However, consistency appears to be a difficult concept to practice for most human beings, so here are some ways to ensure that you don’t fall off the horse:

  1. Find a local cycling group – By joining a group, you’re committing to a routine, making training a priority. Additionally, by training with others, your competitive instinct will catalyze your desire to train.
  2. Sign up for events / races – Like joining a group, signing up for a race and writing it into your calendar will ossify training habits. Charity events, like Pedal for PSC, are a great way to challenge yourself while helping others.
  3. Read one blog post / article a day about cycling technique, training tips, or bike maintenance to feed your passion.
  4. Book an active vacation – don’t let your week off derail your fitness goals; take a bicycle tour and treat yourself to luxurious, adventure packed trip of a lifetime!

When Jon isn’t traveling, he guides for Great Freedom Adventures

Photo credits

“The Bike Guy” by Staff Sgt. Chad Strohmeyer / Yokota Air Base
“My Saddle Bag” by Richard Masoner / flickr
“Hi-Viz” by Garry Knight / flickr