RAGBRAI is just a few days away, and we hope you and your bike are ready for the adventure. Getting your bike prepped for the big ride is critical, and it is equally important to keep it in good shape during the event. Below are some tips from our friends at WD-40 BIKE*, who will be supporting RAGBRAI riders again in 2014. Be sure to stop by the WD-40 BIKE tent in each finish town to get your bike “Cleaned, Lubed and Protected” by their helpful team of pro mechanics. Have a great ride!
Tips to Keep your Bike Rolling:
(When in doubt, check with a pro mechanic.)
1. Tires – Check tire pressure each day to ensure proper inflation. Underinflation can lead to pinched tubes and punctures; overinflation can lead to a very harsh ride and risk of blow-outs. Look for recommended inflation numbers (i.e. 80psi, etc.) on the side walls of your tires. At the end of each day’s ride, check your tires for debris such as glass or thorn fragments. Carry a safety pin and use it to gently pry out any debris you may find. If removal of deeply lodged debris causes a flat, change or patch the tube before the next day’s ride. It’s always faster and easier to change a flat at your camp site than out on the road!
2. Wheels – Spin your wheels after each day’s ride to make sure they are “true”. If you notice any side-to-side or up-and-down wobbles, take the wheel to a pro mechanic for truing service. Also check that your tires are properly seated within the rim. If a portion of a tire extrudes outside of the rim, deflate the tube, re-seat the bead of the tire into the rim and re-inflate the tube. Leaving a portion of a tire unseated will cause it to roll off the rim, triggering an accident.
3. Chain – Keep your chain properly lubed to ensure smooth drivetrain performance. Depending upon weather conditions, use either a dry conditions or wet conditions lube. Use only enough lube to lighting coat each link of your chain, and wipe off any excess. WD-40 BIKE provides both wet and dry chain lube options, and can apply either to your chain in each finishing town. They will also provide samples that you can use along the route.
4. Gears – Check your crankset, front and rear derailleurs and rear cassette (gear cluster) for debris before and after every ride, and at rest stops. Debris such as plastic bag fragments and leaves can get caught in gears, leading to friction, decreased performance and even sudden stops.
5. Brakes – Check your brake pads for proper alignment against your wheel rims. If the pads are too low, they will not contact enough of the rim for adequate braking and may even slip into the spokes. If pads are too high, they will rub against tire sidewalls, potentially causing a blow-out. Also check your brake levers to ensure they are properly adjusted and do not slip on the handlebars. Be careful not to over tighten bolts, or they my strip or snap.
6. Saddles and Stems – Check your seatpost and stem bolts to ensure that saddles and handlebars do not slip while riding. Don’t over tighten bolts or they may strip or snap. Make sure that your saddle is level to ensure a comfortable ride. If the saddle points upward, there will be uncomfortable pressure on your “special parts”. If the saddle points downward, your body will slip forward, and your arms and shoulders will bear too much weight. The will lead to discomfort in your shoulders and neck.
7. Pedals – If using clipless pedals, check your cleats each day for debris which could cause issues with clip-ins and clip-outs. As there is much walking at RAGBRAI, carry an extra set of cleats in case your current set wears down. Use a felt pen to trace around the border of your old cleats on the shoes to ensure that new cleats are properly positioned.
8. Frame – Inspect your bike’s frame and fork each day for damage, such as cracks, dents and rust. Keeping your bike clean will help with this inspection. If you notice anything suspicious, take your bike to a pro mechanic right away. Riding on a damaged frame can lead to serious injuries to you and other riders.
*WD-40 BIKE is now available in thousands of bike shops nationwide. Their superb product line includes Foaming Bike Wash, Heavy-Duty Degreaser, Frame Polish/Protectant, Wet Conditions Lube, Dry Conditions Lube and Original WD-40® Multi-Use Product. See the attached PDF for suggested usage. More information can be found at wd40bike.com.
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