By: Maria Wilcox, WMBA Board Member
We’ve all been there; my stoke is high, I’m ready to ride, I’m amped up on adrenaline and anticipation and BOOM! ride ends before it ever starts. My bike has a flat, my brakes are making a noise that reminds me of a horror movie, or my shoe won’t stay clipped into my pedal because somehow, I’ve lost a cleat. Getting into the habit of a pre-ride check is an immeasurable gift you can give yourself and your bike to ensure the there is no FOMO (fear of missing out) due to something preventable. My pre-ride checklist covers the basics and then some – give it a whirl and see how much more fun you have knowing your gear, bike, and self are ready for anything!
Air Check your tire pressure, add or remove air as needed.
Brakes 1. Do a quick visual inspection of housing checking for frays or exposed cables. 2. Squeeze levers while wheel is in motion by picking up your front wheel and spinning and then the same for your back wheel. 3. Check your rotors for dirt or debris and that they’re on straight. 4. Got a squeak or a squeal when braking? Brake pads are often the cause for squeaky disc brakes as contaminants get in there. However, it is quite easy to ruin a brake pad by even a tiny amount of oil from your skin. If you suspect your brake pad is the culprit, swing over to your local bike shop (Criterium and Ascent are awesome) and they can help you look!
Chain and Cranks and Drivetrain 1. Check to see if your chain is clean, has appropriate tension, and isn’t worn out. 2. Visually inspect your cranks to make sure they spin freely, are tight, and debris free. 3. Check your rear cassette, front chain ring, rear derailleur, shift through your gears to make sure everything is smooth and in working order.
And a few more things:
Quick releases are tight, and wheels aren’t wobbly – if you must take your wheel off to get your bike on your roof rack, make sure you get it back on tight, so you have a safe ride on two wheels.
Headset is tight, and bars are straight – hold your front brake and wiggle the bike back and forth, if there is a lot of movement, your headset may need adjusting. Handlebars can also roll forward or backwards if they aren’t tight enough.
Wheels spin freely with no brake rub
Seat height and position are appropriate for your body proportions
Gear check! Do you have your: 1. Helmet and shoes (if you use clipless pedals, make sure cleats are appropriate tightness and clean) 2. Enough water for the length of your ride, sunscreen, snack, and personal medications 3. Extra tube, tire levers, air source, and multi-tool
Self-check (My personal most important!!!!) o Check your mental, physical, and emotional self to make sure you are ready to ride safely and have fun! Go through this pre-ride check each time you ride, the more you do it, the quicker and more like second-nature it will become. Your bike is your best friend out there so it’s important to make sure everything is in tip-top shape. Whether you ride by yourself, with friends, and your kiddos the experience will be much more enjoyable if you’re not worrying about your gear while out there on the trails. Happy Riding!