There’s obviously loads of stuff everyone checks, and re-checks before a ride, but here is my top 5 things to check to make sure that you have a great ride.
Give the bike a once over
Make sure your bike is in working order. I always work from bottom to top, starting with my tyres. Are they in good condition? Do they have any cuts of anything sticking in them anywhere? Are my wheels true and all the spokes tight? Next I’ll check the chain and groupset/deraileur looking for obvious signs of wear and damage. Working over the frame quickly looking for cracks and major chips. Then were up at the cockpit, are the grips damaged, is everything where I like it, do my brakes work?
I normally check the bike while I lube it before a ride, or while I’m washing it. And I make sure I deal with any issues on the spot, or very close after to make sure either of my bikes can be pulled out of the garage, thrown in the car and ridden without increasing my risk of a mechanical when I’m 6 miles away from the car.
Check the Weather
So it might seem obvious, but check the weather. Having an idea of the conditions before you head out, helps you pick up the right kit. Maybe the sky is blue and the sun is out, but you’re planning a 40 mile epic, check that weather forecast to see if you need the big waterproof.
Checking the weather can also help with other stuff, if you’re super serious and are headed out to a race maybe you want to squeeze that extra 0.1 of a second out of the bike. Check what the weather is going to do and put the right tyres on for the conditions…. and then throw that spare set of nobblies in anyway!
Give your bag a clean out
If you ride with a hydration pack you will fall into the trap of riding with stuff you don’t need “just in case”. Really though, will you ever rebuild a wheel at the side of the trail? I did’t think so, maybe next time think about leaving those spare spokes in the garage. I have gone through this and have now slimmed down, heres what lives in my bag: multi-tool, trail pump, master chain link, spare tube (27.5), protein bar, lightweight waterproof, patch kit and stickers.
I did go through a phase of carrying: multi-tool, trail pump, master chain link, spare tube (27.5), protein bar, lightweight waterproof, patch kit, stickers, spokes, spoke tool, spare gloves, spare multi-tool and a hoody (you know…incase it got really cold).
Slimming down what you carry will make things easier, and will make you quicker and lets you enjoy the ride a lot more. It also reduces the risk of something like a spoke or a multi-tool crushing up against your spine in a crash.
Wear the right gear
Might seem like an obvious one, but having the right gear on will improve the ride. It’s a bit mad to head to the uplift park in your lycra bib shorts and aerodynamic super vented carbon helmet. Because I tend to ride either Down hill or Enduro/all mountain most of my gear is interchangeable, the most difficulty I have is which pads I need to wear. So consider where you are, what obstacles you might encounter and the weather.
I had an incident earlier this year, riding my local downhill trails all day in a short sleeve jersey with pull on style elbow pads. I ended up with sunburn between my wrist (where my glove ended) and 1/2 way up my forearm (where my pads started). It looked really daft when I took my shirt off!
Last thing: Put some money in your pocket
You never know what you’re going to need when you head out. If you’re anything like me you wont have the right change for the carpark, or you’ll forget to bring anything to eat so you have to grab a slice of cake from the cafe.
Whatever the reason, it always helps to have a bit of cash floating about. If you haven’t got a waterproof pocket on your bag, away from your hydration bladder, throw some coins and a note or two in a ziplock bag and then just put it in your pack. Now you’re prepared for the bacon sandwich half way round.
Yeah I said 5 but this one is really important! HAVE FUN!! Dead easy, every time I go out on my bike I have a smile on my face, even when I crash.
So go out, take the right gear on a well maintained bike and have a good time. Let me know if you do anything special before you ride in the comments.