Header image by Paulo Laberge.
After a long winter, it’s tempting to dust off the cobwebs and hop back on the bike at the first signs of spring. But if your bike and equipment have just been sitting around collecting dust all winter, you’ll want to take a few essential steps to ensure your first ride of the season is a safe and enjoyable one.
Take the following 6 steps to start the season off on the right pedal stroke.
1. Check Your Equipment
Whether you use a hydration pack, a hip pack, or prefer on-bike storage options, it’s important to go through and inspect all the odds and ends you’ve gathered over the last season…or five.
Toss the expired energy bars and gels, check your spare tubes by inflating them, and add any key items you may be missing like spare chain links, zip ties, and a fully-stocked first aid kit.
Below is a checklist of the items we recommend packing with you.
- Water (either a bottle, hydration pack, or both)
- Tire levers
- Multi-tool with chainbreaker
- Pliers with two powerlinks
- Tire pump
- C02 canister and plug tool if running tubeless
- A fully charged phone
- Emergency rain jacket
- Spare cash
- Photo ID
- Small bottle of lube
- Electrical tape
- Zip ties
- First aid kit
- A few of your favourite non-perishable snacks
Inspect your riding gear — shoes, gloves, eyewear, armour, etc. — for any signs of wear. Try to repair when possible but don’t compromise on safety. This is also a great time to give your water bladder a good clean, including the mouthpiece.
Lastly, give your helmet a thorough inspection and feel for any cracks, dents, scratches, or damage. Helmets have a shelf life, so don’t forget to check their expiry.
2. Update Your Kit
After checking your supplies and inspecting your equipment, head to your local bike shop or supplier to top up any items that may be missing or need replacing. Ask for gear recommendations specific to your needs, especially when it comes to the areas of contact on your bike — your pedals, grips, and saddle. Sometimes, those small changes can add up to a big difference after spending hours in the saddle.
3. Give Your Bike Some Love
Your bike takes a lot of abuse so it’s critical to ensure it is in perfect working order before hitting the trails. Be sure to set some time aside to thoroughly inspect the following parts (as a starting point):
- Tires — fix any flats. If air is slowly leaking, replace the inner tube or replenish the tubeless sealant.
- Chain — check your chain for wear. Degrease, clean, and add a small amount of lube (but don’t overdo it!)
- Brakes & brake pads — make sure that your brakes are working correctly and check that the pads are not worn out. Replace them if necessary.
- Reset your suspension — use a shock pump to check the air pressure based on your current weight (with ALL your riding gear on).
- Grease and bolt check — using a torque wrench, check all nuts and bolts to ensure all are torqued to spec. Add some fresh grease as needed.
- Shifters — make sure your gears and derailleur are functioning properly.
4. Get A Tune Up
If you have doubts about any of the steps above, set up an appointment with your local bike shop to give your bike a tune up. At Flow State, we offer a wide range of bike services and can ensure your bike is ready to ride. Click here to book your service appointment today.
5. Sign Up for a Skills Clinic
No matter how far along you are in your biking journey, there are always new skills to learn, practice, and finetune. Maybe you really want to learn how to wheelie, clean that super technical section of trail, or simply improve your overall confidence on the bike. That’s where a skills clinic or lesson with a professional coach can really help.
If you’re in Southern Ontario, check out Minii Adventures — they offer a wide range of group experiences and private lessons for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.
6. Plan a Trip, Event, or Race
Nothing beats having a goal to get you motivated to ride and progress your skills. Sign up for an event later in the season that you can look forward to. Maybe it’s finally time to take that trip to Quebec or Vermont, plan a weekend at a bike park with your riding friends, or sign up for your first race or event. Whatever that is for you, give yourself something to work towards and get excited about.
If you have any questions about getting ready for the biking season, we’re always happy to help. Give us a call at (519) 824-2943, send us a message, or swing by our bike shop & coffee bar at 599 Arkell Rd.