Your bike needs to be in good working condition for all training rides and the Ride in July. Erik's Bikes is the official bike sponsor for the Red Ribbon Ride and will have bike tech available on the event for most of your mechanical needs but you need to arrive with your bike ready to ride.
Knowing how to do an ABCQ quick check before your ride, changing a flat tire, putting your chain back on and keeping your bicycle clean are a few of the things that you will want to learn to be self sufficient on the road. We offer workshops on bicycle maintenance and you can always contact the Ride office for further assistance.
Your training rides will have you put a lot of miles on your bicycle and you will need to tune your bike up before and after the event. You want to start the Ride with your bike in pristine condition. After the event your bike will have been through many miles, all sorts of weather and will likely need a follow up tune up.
ABCQ Quick Check
Prior to each ride you want to get into the habit of looking at your bicycle to ensure that it is ready to ride. A quick check will not only keep you safer on the road it will help you become more familiar with your bike so if something does go wrong you can identify it more quickly.
A - Air! Be sure to check your tire pressure, use a tire pump with a gage to figure out the exact tire pressure. The appropriate tire pressure will be located on the side wall of your tire and is different for the different types of tires. Ask for help from a fellow rider if you are having a hard time identifying this.
B - Brakes! Check your front and rear brakes by squeezing the leavers on your handlebars. Lift your bike, spin the wheel and squeeze the brakes. Make sure they are closing and not too squishy. You should be able to give a squeeze and they should stop the wheel without too much pressure. If they are not closing quickly or need a lot of pressure check your quick releases to make sure they are closed. If you are still having issues you may need to adjust the cables. Ask for help from a fellow rider and if you are unable to fix the issue you may need to go to your local bike shop.
C - Cables & Chain! You will want to look over your bike and make sure all your cables are connected, not frayed and taught. You can ask your bike shop to show you how to do fine tuning on your cables if you would like. If you notice fraying or hanging cables you will want to take you bike into the shop and get them replaced or fixed. To check your chain look at it, make sure it is on the chain rings, lift your bike so the back wheel is up and give your pedal a spin and change the gears. See how the chain moves up and down on the cogs, and listen. If there are no hiccups and it sounds smooth you are good to go. If your chain is getting stuck, skipping a gear, not staying in gear or making noise when you shift you will need to bring it to your bike shop. Some riders may be able to help with small adjustments to your dérailleur but after your ride go to your shop to make sure everything is in good working order.
Q - Quick Release! You may have already checked for this when you were looking at your brakes or tire pressure but it you didn't you need to. On of the biggest causes of bicycle malfunctions is an open quick release. If you drive with your bike in your car and need to put your tire on when you arrive to a training ride chances are you need to double check your quick release. If you need help identifying where your quick releases are ask a fellow rider or Training Ride Leader.
Getting a flat tire is not the end of the world. It's just a flat tire and can be repaired. We offer bicycle maintenance workshops throughout the year and you can come with your front wheel to learn how to change your tire. Changing a tire can seem like rocket science but the more you practice before you are on the side of the road with one the easier it will be to fix it when it happens. And it will happen. Remember to take a deep breath and know it will be fixed soon.
Our Training Ride Leaders will help you along the road on training rides if you get a flat and don't know how to fix it. They will also teach you how to change a tire. When you get a flat be sure to take time to hydrate and eat a snack as well. Just because you are not moving doesn't mean you need to stop fueling your body.
Sometimes when you are riding out of no where you will shift and your chain will fall off. Stop pedaling, slow down and stop in a safe place off the road to put it back on. If you do not know how to put your chain back and you are on a training ride or the Ride stand on the side of the road with your thumb down and someone will stop to help you. Putting a chain on will get your hands dirty but once you know how it will be an easy fix. Attending our bicycle maintenance workshop is a great place to learn how to fix your chain.
Cleaning Your Bicycle
A clean bike is a happy bike. Keeping your bicycle clean is the best way to stay on top of your bicycle maintenance. If you do a quick wipe down of your bike after each ride (you can use a baby wipe for this) you will be ahead of the game. Wiping your bike off after each ride gets your eyes looking at your bike and if something seems off or out of place you will notice it more quickly because you know your bike. This will help you get it to the mechanic before it becomes and issue you find in the middle of no where and can decrease accidents.
You also need to do a deep cleaning of your bicycle ever month at the very least. The more miles you ride the more often you should clean your bike. A deep cleaning includes wiping everything down, removing your wheels and getting into all the nooks and crannies. You will also want to clean your chain and back wheel cogs. Be sure after you clean your chain that you reapply lube.
Consult with your local bike shop on the best cleaning products for your bicycle and the best lube for your to use on your chain.
Your bicycle is like a car, the more mileage you put on it the more attention it needs. Depending on how many miles you put on your bike will depend on when you need to take it in for a tune up. Most tune up will include a brake adjustment, gear adjustment, tire inflation, bottom bracket adjustment, hanger alignment, headset adjustment, lock ring check, chain lube, check chain length, crank arm tightening, hub cone adjustment and wheel truing. If you want your bike shop to clean your bike you will need to request this. Tune up prices vary from shop to shop and if you need additional work this will add up. The best part about cleaning your bike after every ride is that you are more likely to avoid the shock of a repair cost you didn't anticipate. Check out our Community Sponsors for bike shops that offer discounts for Red Ribbon Ride participants.
Pre Ride Tune Up
Doing a tune up prior to the event will ensure that your bicycle is in top working order and ready for the 4 day journey. Be sure to schedule this tune up with your bike shop as other people will be scheduling tune ups as well. You will want to do a few rides on your bike after the tune up to make everything is riding smoothly. If you have to take it back in for an adjustment you want to make sure you have time.
Post Ride Tune Up
At the end of the Ride you will have put on 300 miles, ridden through all kinds of terrain and weather. Your bike will need to be tuned up and cleaned. We highly recommend you take your bike back to your bike shop for another tune up. You don't want your bike to sit in your garage with dirt and moisture because it can likely cause more damage. When you are ready to ride again if you haven't gotten a tune up you will likely find out that your bike isn't riding as smoothly and could be dangerous. Not cleaning it and doing a tune up could lead to more damage.