Wednesday, March 21, 2012

AND THE SUN IS SHINING, AND THE WIND IS WARM - unless it's the first outdoor Cycling Centre ride!

The last few weeks have been truly fabulous in terms of weather, although the mornings have been really foggy.  Cyclists get itchy and can't seem to sit still when the spring weather arrives, so we have no choice but to move the Cycling Centre Sessions outside; at least on the week-ends when it's not pitch black out.

Last week-end we had a foggy and wet ride, after a week of beautiful sun, and thought I'd provide some pointers on how to prepare your bike and body for riding in these conditions.

Always make sure your bike is in good condition.  Keep it clean and lubed, check that all the bolts are tight (handlebars, seat posts, bottle cages), wiggle your cranks and wheels from side to side to make sure there is no play in the bottom bracket or hub.  Have I lost you on the naming of the parts? There is a great picture of a bike that names all the parts of a bicycle and can be found here.  Make sure you have stuff to fix a flat as well (spare tube, pump or CO2, tire levers) and money in case you pass a bakery that is too hard to resist stopping in to.

Drawing by Rainbow Boys

Also check your tires and make sure that they are in good condition.   If you have been riding an indoor trainer tire then be sure to take it off before hitting the pavement.  Look for holes, wear in the side walls, if you've been riding your tire on a trainer or if it is older it might also have flattened out (if you're not sure what I mean compare it to the front one, they should look the same). Generally I wait until the roads have been swept to put on new tires as the gravel can do damage and there may be some days where I hop back on the trainer as we all know that snow will come once more!

Correct air pressure is the next step.  The more air you have in your tires the rougher the ride.  So if you are on nice dry, new roads then you can pump them up as high as you like, though that doesn't mean you will be faster.  If you are riding on rough roads, gritty roads, or wet roads start at 90 psi.  By taking some of the air out you will increase your surface contact with the rubber and the road for more stability and will provide more "give" for comfort.  Your tires will "grip" more in the rain and around corners at a lower psi, though make sure you stay above the minimum recommended pressure for your tires.  The maximum and minimum tire pressures will be printed on your tires.

So last Saturday we were out in 5 degrees Celsius, fog, and some wet - what should we wear?  Those in shorts and no gloves learned the hard way that they needed more clothing.  So here is what I recommend:

  • 0-6 degrees:
    • hat, jersey and arm warmers (and/or good undershirt), wind jacket, long finger gloves with some warmth.  If you tend to be cold then you might want a more thermal under layer, but if the temperature is going to warm up be prepared to take off your jacket, which is why a jersey with pockets underneath is handy as your jacket can be stuffed in to your pocket.
    • shorts and knee warmers, or knickers, or tights.  Keep your knees covered when it's under 15 degrees!!
    • warm socks that are thin enough you can still wiggle your toes, toe covers or booties over your shoes
    • helmet and glasses - though if it's raining or grey put in bright lenses - yellow, orange, pink, clear.
  • 6-15 degrees:
    • same as above though you may not need the hat, be prepared to take off the jacket, and you may not need the booties.  I would still do long finger gloves, but they don't need to be thermal or wintery.
That should help get you started for spring riding. The next post will focus on bike handling and reminders that we tend to be rusty our first few rides outside.

See you on the road.

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