I’m riding the Triple Bypass in Colorado next Saturday. It’s an amazing 120-mile journey over three high passes in the Rocky Mountains – the 3,500 rider event sold out in just a few hours. I’m riding with a big group of friends, many of whom I haven’t seen in a year. We’ve all been looking forward to this ride for months.
The LAST thing I want to happen is for a mechanical problem to keep me from having a great time. So, now is the time to check everything while I still have time to order parts and most importantly to get in a couple of test rides before the big event. Here’s my checklist:
Have your tires worn flat instead of being rounded like when new? Is the rubber cracking a little, especially at the rims? Might be time for new tires. The more worn your tires are, the easier it is to get a flat. My Continental GP 4000’s have a wear dimples, when they disappear, it’s time for a new tire.
Diving into a hairpin corner at the top of a 5,000 foot descent is not the best time to find out your brake pads are worn out. Sometimes, when your brakes feel spongy you just tighten the cable a little, right? Well, you can do that only so many times before you run out of pad. Your pads should have wear marks on them – make sure you have plenty of pad left to slow you down.
Did you know your chain wears out? A worn chain is more likely to break on a ride and also increases wear on your cassette and chainrings. I’ve actually crashed when my chain broke; don’t let that happen to you.
I use this handy Park Tool Chain Wear Gauge to keep an eye on chain wear and end up replacing mine every 2,000 miles or so.
Does your bike shift properly? A lot of shifting problems come from too much friction in the cable housings. Especially problems shifting into higher gears in the back where the derailleur uses the spring to contract. If you ride in wet weather, that rear cable housing easily fills with gunk and rusts. You can test how much friction is in the system by disconnecting the cable from the derailleur and moving it by hand. It should slide easily from the shifter to the derailleur.
Even if everything is ok, it’s a good idea to change your cables every season. I once got up at dawn and drove over an hour to do an epic 100+mile ride only to have my derailleur cable snap in the parking lot.
When was the last time you looked at the bottom of your shoes? Yeah, same here. It’s a good idea to check out your cleats and pedals to make sure everything is in working order before starting off on that epic ride. I’ve had cleat bolts shear off leaving me pedaling home somewhat awkwardly.
All I need is a spare tube, a CO2 cartridge and nozzle, a single tire spoon (you only need one…) and a good multi-tool. Make sure the tool has a chain-tool on it. I also throw in a piece of rubber to plug large tears in a tire sidewall and a quick-link that I need for my specific type of SRAM chain. Personally, I hate carrying a pump (but am usually glad that you do) and can’t stand messing with tire patches. If you like that stuff, go for it.
Ok, everything ready? Good. Now go ride…