This morning was one of those mornings. To start things off I couldn’t find my arm or knee warmers or gloves for that matter, then the presta valve on my rear tire literally blew off as I was filling it with air, leaving me to change a tube in the cramped storage room of my building. To top it off the gears were out of whack and I dropped my chain in the first two minutes of my ride -sigh. The net result was me being half an hour late for work. It was all my fault, I know, I hadn’t taken the time to give my normally trusty ride its spring tune up to make sure both of us were ready- oops.
I don’t want to sound like a bad midnight infomercial for tune ups but… « don’t let this happen to you » – now imagine yourself on the side of the road with an exaggerated look of frustration, shrugging your shoulders- and enter voice over « Get your spring tune up, NOW! » This sounds like common sense but taking the time to make sure your bicycle is in sound working order before your first ride can save you time and large piles of frustration.
Your best chance at success, unless you really know your way around a bicycle, is to take your bike to a shop. If you are reasonably sure that your bike is ready to roll and confident in your own skills then you can give it a once over yourself before your first ride. Check tire pressure, make sure your quick releases are tight, lube your chain and make sure nothing has come loose. But remember if you try and fix it and make it worse, it will be more expensive to get someone else to fix your mistakes. If its been a while and your bike needs a little more love or you want someone else tune your bicycle, then wheel it by your local shop and get a professional to give it a once over and the tender loving care it deserves.
The extra effort will make sure that your gears are shifting properly, your brakes will brake properly and most importantly that your bike is safe to ride. It may seem like a pain in the butt, but as I was poignantly reminded this morning it is a small price to pay to avoid a the cursing, stomping and generally unpleasant experience of dealing with repairs as you are about to go for a ride. Trust me.