Thursday, September 6, 2012

Getting My Bike Ready to Go 56 Miles

Starting a new sport was a huge step for me.  I am a creature of habit.  Running has been great for the past five years because I know how to do it and I know what to expect on every corner.  Training for running events was easy for me because I know the right paces and what everything means on training plans.  I know how to change my training plan when things arise.  I know what to buy when I go to a running store or look online for new gear.  Running is easy.

And then I went and got a bike.

I love my bike!  I love riding.  I am loving the sport of triathlons.  What I don't love is the unknown.  When I went to purchase my bike in May, I had no idea what I wanted.  I told the guy helping me that I wanted to do a Half Ironman at the end of the summer and he kind of looked at me like I didn't know what I was talking about.  (Or that is how I interpreted his look, I am incredibly self conscious when going into stores I am unfamiliar with.)

My summer of riding was a learning experience.  I have gotten faster and am learning what works for me on the bike.  I can clip in and out, I think I know how to change a tire, and this past weekend, I learned to clean my bike.

A few weeks ago, I rode four hours in the rain.  My bike was so dirty after this ride, but I kept riding knowing that my race was coming up and I would have to eventually clean it before the big day.  Well my big day is here, and I needed to clean my bike.

I was incredibly paranoid that I would hurt my bike :) so I asked my husband to help me get my bike ready for my race.  I didn't want him doing it for me though because I want to be able to do this on my own. I have a year of many miles ahead of me and getting his help whenever I need it is not going to work.

We started off by wiping down the frame with a soft sponge and water mixed with car wash soap.  I was hesitant to use any sort of soap, but my husband is picky with his car so I knew he wouldn't let me down with my bike.  For the spots that I couldn't reach, I pulled out a toothbrush and for spots that were greasy, I sprayed Clorox Green Works all purpose cleaner on it.

I probably scrubbed my bike longer than was needed but I figured if I finally was doing it, I was going to be picky.

Cleaning the chain was not hard at all but involved a tool that we bought from REI.  They had a big selection of tools you could buy, but we purchased the inexpensive Finish Line Grunge Brush and it really seemed to do the trick.  You basically surround the chain with the brush and move the pedal backward cleaning sections of the chain at a time.  We used a mixture of Simple Green and water which we dipped the brush into in between sections.

After the chain was clean, we rinsed the bike with water.  We used the hose at a low pressure and a clean rag to wipe everything down.  After that we let it sit out to dry and then Eric reapplied lubricant to the chain since we had washed it all off.

After my bike was clean, Eric got to work adjusting my bike derailleur.  I wish I could say what he did, but while I understood what was going on, it is much more technical than simple bike maintenance.  This did convince me that I may be taking a bike maintenance course this winter in order to better understand my bike.

And the next day, I took my bike for a ride and it was smooth and quiet!  It was amazing what a little handy work can do for my bike that I thought was perfect before we had even begun.


Kerrie T. said...

Good luck this weekend! Great post! My mtn bike is diiiirrrrteeee.

Ed said...

Great tips! I didn't know to do that with my bike....

Jen & Jess said...

Looks like you're learning quickly! I'm also a newbie to the bike/tris and I'm lucky to have a veteran tri buddy who has helped me out along the way.

Cristina said...

you are one step ahead of me on this one. I have never cleaned my bike other than passing a rag to take out the water/dirt after a wet ride ... it goes for a tune up every other month or so and comes back sparkly!

Jenn said...

Super excited for you this weekend Robin!! Best of luck to you and I can't wait to hear how it goes for you!!

Amanda Loudin said...

Good for you! I can't tell you how much I loathe cleaning my back. Well, let me tell you--it got wet on a ride back in mid-August. I dried it after, but have I cleaned it yet? Pathetic!!