Is Your Helmet Tight?

The next time you put your helmet on, check the chin strap. When your mouth is closed, the chin strap should be tight enough that you can only fit two fingers between the strap and your chin. If the strap is too loose it may not stay on your head when you need it the most.

Chin straps can loosen over time, so it's a good thing to check a couple of times a year. Check out this video to see more information about how to properly fit a helmet.

What to Wear Whatever the Weather

Deciding what to wear while cycling in inclement weather is tricky. It can take a lot of trial and error to get it dialed in, but riding in most conditions is A LOT more comfortable once you know how to dress. It’s a horrible feeling when you went through the painstaking process to figure out what to wear last year, but you wrote nothing down so you spend the first few rides of each season miserable.

I’m here to tell you about a system I’ve honed that could help you out. The picture below is me, sitting in the car after a fat bike ride at -10F, where I was actually TOO HOT on the ride.

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Changing Your Cleats

The easy way of making sure your new cleats match up with the position of your old ones, and this is very important, is to use masking tape on the outside edge of the cleat in different places, or better yet scribe with an awl, or pen around the whole outside edge. I use both tape and an awl. But before your loosen things up, get on your bike and clip in both shoes while leaning up against something.

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Is Your Water Bottle Toxic?

This article has all cyclists and hikers concerned. The U.S. government is expected to release a report on the safety of certain plastic water bottles containing the chemical compound bisphenol-A or BPA, which some scientists consider a health concern. Recent lab tests indicate that exposure to BPA may raise the risk of certain cancers, effect both male and female fertility and possibly enhance the risk of developing Type II diabetes at certain exposure levels. Look for a small triangle on the bottom of your bottles. The number inside the triangle indicates the category of plastic that is used to manufacture the bottle. Bottles that contain the number 3, 6, or 7 have either BPA or other chemicals that should be avoided. Most cycling bottles are made with No. 4 plastic.

Keep Your Head Up

While riding in a group, especially at a fast speed, keep your head up and look beyond that rider in front of you. Remember drivers ed, and how they taught you to scan ahead and get the whole picture? The same holds true with us, in that looking ahead to see what's going on 4-5 riders ahead will give you more reaction time in case there is a crash. It will also be helpful in telling you when the speed will increase, or decrease, or if there is something in the road that doesn't get pointed out for some reason.

Pivot Points

I learned this from Scott Flanders many yrs. ago, and for those of you who know him, know that he is meticulous about his race bike being race ready at all times. At both the front and rear derailleurs there are points where, if you work the shift lever can see where a part will move against another part that won't. That is the pivot point, and it makes sense to give that point just 1 drop of light weight lubricant once in a while. The rear derailleur has 4 points, and the front also 4 points. I use the smallest plastic bottle of Triflow I can find. I inserted one of those spray tubes into the top, that way I can see that I'm using just a drop. Then wipe off the any excess.

Tire Care

This is the most over looked areas on our bikes, and a lot of the times it shows on a lot of our rides involving flat tires. As far as I'm concerned, you get what you pay for when buying them. I ride Continental Grand Prix 4000. Last year, I managed to put 2,300 miles on a rear tire, before changing it out. These have a Kevlar protection that seems to help prevent glass and other objects you might run over. Their price has gone up a little from last year, and now sell for about 55 bucks. There are also other brands on the market, and all the top of the line tires are in the 45-55 dollar range.

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Bike Stand

I gave some information on this last year, and thought it needed mentioning again. I've had a bike stand for a very long time now, and before that I relied on leaning my machine against an outside wall, or even tipping it upside down on the grass to do periodical maintenance. If this sounds familiar to some of you and I know it does, it's time to "pony up" and buy a stand.

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Intersections

This tip of the week is a simple one that is a must. When entering an intersection where you do not have to stop, make sure you make "eye to eye" contact with that car or truck, and don't take for granted that they see you. You can also look at their front tire to see if it is moving. People out here in Dakota County are used to looking for something bigger than you and your bike. If in doubt, cover your brake levers.

Wheel Care

After a wet ride, do you happen to notice that whenever you apply the brakes you hear a sort of grinding sound coming from the brake pads? That's because your rear and front wheels pick up a lot of fine grit, and when you brake it gets embedded in the brake pads and leads to rim wear. So to protect those expensive rims here's some simple maintenance. As soon as you can, remove the wheels and take a piece of sandpaper in the 120-180 grit range and sand the face of the pads that make contact with the rim. Just a few passes will remove this grit and give you a lot longer wheel life.