With that usually comes snow. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm NOT a fan of winter. I don't ski, nor do I skate or play any winter-specific games or sports.
My exercise consists of cycling, walking or hiking.
I gave up the mountain bike scene just after college and have remained an ardent fan of road cycling ever since. There's just something about the feel of a smooth road slipping along under my skinny tires that pulls me into a different world. I simply can't get enough of it. Hard to explain to a non-cyclist. A non-roady.
Now that winter is at our doors again, I pretty well take the bikes off of the road unless an unseasonably warm day is upon us and I can find a dry strip of pavement. I hang my bikes up in the workshop and make sure that all is in order. I sweep, tidy up. Put tools away. Clean off the work bench and all the other things one does when putting a shop into hibernation.
So, what do you do when winter approaches? Being a cyclist, I mean. Do you pack your bike away? Leave it in the garage, shed, basement, spare room?
Is it ready to ride as soon as the snow vanishes again? How do you know for sure that it is ready when you hit the road?
Here's my 2 cents on that.
As a cyclist, I want to be able to put my butt on the seat the moment the desire to ride hits me. I don't want to have to deal with any "issues" with my bike if the sun is warm and the road is clear. If I have to put my bike up in the work stand and spend more than a couple of minutes making last minute adjustments, I feel like I've wasted my entire day. Going on a ride on the first perfect cycling day is what I live for all winter long. Maybe it's not the same for you. That's fine. But here are a few tips, in case it is the same for you.
Before you store your bike for the winter:
1. Inspect the tires and wheels. Do the tires look cracked or damaged at all? Replace them with upgrades. Look for tires with puncture resistant layering and a high thread count. Brands that are popular are Schwalbe, Continental, Michelin.
2. Test ride your bike and work the gears and brakes. Do the cables move smoothly? Does the chain move into every gear precisely and quickly? Do the brakes squeak? Do they stop you with confidence?
3. Put your hands to the bike and its parts. Are there any loose bolts, components? Give every pair of spokes a squeeze and see if any are loose? Look between the rim and the brake or frame to see if the rim is straight. If not, talk to your favourite mechanic about getting the wheel trued.
4. While looking over your bike, take notice of any rust. The chain should be cleaned and oiled. Bike oil. Not WD40. That's not what it is for. Does the derailleur have a layer of crud? That needs to be removed.
5. Finally, inflate your tires if the bike will sit on the floor. If they are empty over the winter, in some cases the sidewall may crack. Especially in a dry environment. If you can, hang the bike or turn it over so it rests on the handlebars and seat.
Take these steps to make sure your bike is in good working order the minute you are inspired to hit the road in the spring. I know you will thank me when you are pedalling down your favourite stretch of pavement, with a toothy grin firmly planted on your face. Ride on fellow cyclist. Ride on.