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.