Keep rolling, rolling, rolling
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Covid 19 is training us to view every surface as an alien landscape that needs decontaminating - our front doors treated as an airlock. Outside on your bike is a refuge from these concerns. Splashes, muddy puddles, bridleways, canal paths and roads are a playground we can embrace with child-like glee.....
Last weekend a friend and I were on the bike for 2 minutes before we looked at each other and smiled. We were gonna get muddy.
We have learnt some lessons though – in keeping ourselves outside longer – and our bikes on the road longer.
Hands and toes. Warm fingers and toes are a must. There are expensive waterproof thermal gloves – or like me you just layer up. A thin pair of gloves under some bigger ones. Some heat pads for a couple of quid will keep you going. Some plastic sandwich bags with some duct tape over the front of your shoes won’t win you any fashion awards – but will keep a brisk wind from freezing your toes.
Mud guards are not going to keep you at your Sunday best, but will do a huge amount to prevent the badger stripe that more resembles a bad curry night. Keeping water down off your bum and back and riding at sensible speeds will allow you to wear pretty much normal clothes for a quick trip to the shops.
Cycling gear gets all the laughs, but in the autumn and winter the quick drying, light weight nature is a godsend. A wind proof and waterproof jacket will keep you going, and a snood or scarf will keep the rain out of your neck.
Keeping your bike going doesn’t require a huge amount of work. Little and often will keep things safe and freewheeling.
Before the ride, test your brakes and make sure the levers don’t have too much give – stopping in the wet will require a little extra effort. On the brake handles and down by the brakes themselves are usually little black adjusters that will help tighten the tension slightly.
Tire pressure if you are on the road will help your energy levels and if you are going on some muddy trails a little extra softness will help with your grip.
Post ride – it’s a quick hose down. But please don’t use a pressure washer. Pushing water at extreme pressure into your crank, wheel hub and handlebar stem will quickly cause you problems with your bearings.
A good spray with the garden hose and get all the mud and grime off. Dry everything down so there is no standing water – and then your two magic ingredients.
GT85 or WD40. Not the name of some star visiting androids – but the water repelling lubricants that keep your bike bits from rusting. Spray on all the metal moving parts and let dry.
Finally, chain lube. This is some nice stuff that helps the chain move freely and preserves your gears and cogs while your legs keep going. There is wet weather lube and dry weather lube, but don’t stress too much if you don’t have any.
Once in a while – taking the seat post out, wiping the spokes and rims, and using some degreaser on the gears and chain will help.
For a family of six it took me ½ an hour after our Sunday mud fest to get the bikes ready to ride again.
A little prep, a little few extra minutes at the end and you will see yourself through to spring and sun!