I enjoy riding for miles down country roads sighting deer or hawks. The comradery of my cycling club has given me a new community. At over seventy years of age, I enjoy the fitness that my rides have given me. But, any ride can be spoiled when I have failed to make proper preparations. To help me, I have developed a bike ride checklist. It should help you as well.
Bike Ride Checklist:
1. Charge Electronics
I look at my bike ride checklist often the day before a ride. So, first off I make sure all of my electronics are charged.
I want my cell phone to be at least 80 percent charged before I set out on a ride. I rely on the device to get in touch with someone to pick me up if I have trouble. I also need it functioning in case I need to summon emergency services for me or another rider.
Wildlife or interesting scenery may suddenly appear as I ride. I like to take photos of these unusual sights. Sometimes, I shoot a selfie with other riders in order to memorialize the ride.
So, I make sure that I charge my phone before any ride.
The phone is also useful as a backup for data I collect on my cyclocomputer as I ride.
My cyclocomputer of choice is a Wahoo Element. Others prefer a Garmin. It records the route, speed, cadence, and heart rate. It also alerts me to upcoming Strava Segments. It really frustrates me when I forget to charge my Element. I hate having to worry about it going dead and not recording my metrics. So, I always check to see how much power is left in it before I ride. Most hold power for 10-17 hours.
Check that your taillights and headlights are charged. Make sure that vehicles can see you.
Remember, it can take more than an hour to charge a phone or a cyclocomputer. Charge them the night before your ride.
2. Set Out Gear (especially if you are driving to the start of ride)
Cyclists, including myself, have driven to the starting point of a ride and realized that some important gear has been left at home. That is frustrating, embarrassing, and maddening.
If you forget your shoes or helmet, you will probably have to return home and miss your group ride. Not very motivational.
If I get on my bike at home and head out, it is much easier to quickly turn around and quickly collect my hydration bottle.
I have this checklist for rides that I drive to. I look it over before heading out the door.
- shoes and socks
- energy bar (GU, bar, blocks, etc)
- bottles filled with hydration liquid
- spare tube
- pump or CO2 cartridges
- tire tools
- tail lights
- cell phone
3. Lube Your Chain
It took me several years of riding until it finally sunk in that lubing my chain was essential. Now, I lube it before almost every ride. I can tell the difference on the road and in my bank account. It deserves a prime place on my bike ride checklist.
Noise coming from your drive train is most of caused by lack of lubrication on the chain.
On the road, my newly oiled chain makes me feel like I am riding faster. Cycling engineers claim a dry chain consumes 20 watts while a lubed chain only consumes 5-10 watts. The point is, a fresh chain rolls fast and smooth, and saves energy.
It certainly is frustrating to have problems shifting gears. We have all experienced it. Shifting is a key performance factor. Problems shifting can make you slower and reduce your efficiency. A dry chain is often the cause of minor shifting issues.
Replacing a worn-out drive train for your bike can cost between a hundred dollars to several thousand depending on the type and model. So, lube that chain regularly to extend its life.
You should lubricate your chain after every ride of 20 miles or more.
Before you lube a chain, you need to clean it. If you wash or clean your chain once a month or so, you still need to at least wipe it off before adding more lubricant. Use a soft rag to wipe the chain as well as upper and lower pulleys on the derailleur.
For a deeper clean after a very long ride or any ride in bad weather, you will want to use a degreaser like MuckOff or SimpleGreen. There are also several types of brushes and machines that are helpful if you want to spend the money, but rage and degreaser will do just fine.
Do not EVER use WD-40 on your chain.
There are two, basic types of lubricant for bikes: dry and wet. Wet lubes (various oils) have been the go-to lubricant for decades. Dry lubes have been introduced in recent years. I use dry lube most of the time. Dry lube does not collect as much dirt, grit, and road grime as wet lube. However, dry lube can be washed off by rain. So, if it is raining or there is a potential for rain, I will revert to wet lube.
Here is a bit more detailed demonstration of lubing a chain.
4. Pump Up Your Tires
The final item to tick off the bike ride checklist is: Air up your tires before every ride.
A foot pump is an essential maintenance tool for a cyclist.
Before every ride, one needs to check and adjust the pressure in the tires. A pump with a built-in gauge makes pumping up the tires easier. Of course, never use a gas station pump. You will blow out your tube in an instant.
Hot weather causes air to leak from tires quicker than normal. As much as 4-5 psi can escape during a hot weather ride. So, add a couple extra ps during the summer. Four psi might not seem to be much, but if you’re running 8 psi in a fat bike tire, losing half of your air pressure is a pretty big deal.
If you are riding on a trainer, make sure your rear tire has near-maximum tire pressure. If you only have the normal road-ridding pressure in it, the tire will experience greater wear than normal.
Making the above preparations raises the odds of you experiencing a pleasurable ride. Follow this bike ride checklist and enjoy your time in the saddle.