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.

Sunrise and Sunset

This is the time of the year in which we have to think about another safety factor, the sun. We have all experienced driving in our own cars, driving along and then turning to go east in the morning, our turning to go west at night. You can't flip that sun visor down quick enough, right?? This can be a dangerous thing especially if you are riding into that bright light on a road with no our very little shoulder. I personally have witnessed this twice since riding with a group. Luckely no one was seriously hurt. So take in consideration that the driver of any kind of vehicle can be blinded by the sun and not be able to see you.

Car Doors

Out here in Dakota County, we don't have to worry about this the way city cyclists do. I'm talking about riding by cars that are parked on the street. It is my experience that a lot of drivers that park on the street do not look into their side view mirrors before they open up their door. The best way to avoid an ugly end-o is to get used to looking for a head behind the wheel of the car, and always try and give yourself a little clearance of 3 ft. if possible without getting too far out in the traffic lane.

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Cold-Weather Clothing

I mentioned this little tip before and thought it worth while to mention again. Most of you drive to our ride on Saturday and you have a complete wardrobe of bike clothes with you. For those of us who ride to Dunn Bros. it can be a guessing game as far as how much to wear without overheating. I have more than once been under-dressed leaving the house only to turn back a mile later for something more. The rule of thumb that will help you is, you should be slightly uncomfortable for the first 3 mi. If you are OK after that then you are dressed just right.

Sluggish Shifters

Bob McEnaney gave me an idea for another t.o.t.w. on last Sat. ride. When we were riding side by side, he said his bike wasn't shifting very well. I suggested that we stop and turn his rear derailleur adjuster half a turn counter clockwise. That did the trick! The problem is that shifter cables stretch out, especially if it is new. One way to avoid some of that is to pre-stress the new cable once it is on the bike. Grab the cable with your fingers at the chain stays and pull it away from the stays. That will stretch it out a little, but you will probably have to use the barrel adjuster for a fine adjustment later on when the cable stretches out again. Usually that will be the end of the stretching out. Just remember counter clockwise, and just a half turn at a time.

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Night Riding

Everyone who has tried riding the trainer knows what I'm talking about when I say, every minute on the trainer can seem like 5 min., unless you are one of the exceptions who can turn off your brain for an hour or two! To make the time go faster I recommend having a TV with the sound off, some rippin good music and a fan blowing on you, all at the same time. There is another solution, and that is check into buying a good light for night riding. I'm not talking about your average $40-60 models. Today your serious night rider is sporting a unit that will cost $200-$400 and I believe they are rated in candle power.

Ride Right

While on the Grand Performance Sprint ride, at the intersection of Cliff and Johnny Cake Rd. Joe Christian, who leads Mello Velo tours was hit from behind by a pickups passengers mirror on the left shoulder. Lucky for him, and he told me so, that the big mirror was ducked taped on so it broke away very easy. Dan Casebeer said that the pickup came very close to him while riding behind Joe. I was right behind Joe and to the right so I could see the whole thing. The driver sped away knowing what had happened. If Joe would have been just 1 ft. or less further to the left we would have been making a 911 call. The driver of the pickup had alot of room to avoid all this but he was the 1/10th of 1 % of the drivers who have this mentality towards bike riders on THEIR road.

Chain Maintenance

I always check my chain for excess stretch at around 2,000 miles. I laid out my old one, and laid the new one along the side of it to see how much the old one had stretched out. You should lay them together to make sure you break the new one at the same length as the old. The old one was 3/16th of an inch longer. This might not seem like a lot but, it is when you start talking about the extra wear it can put on your front chainrings and your cogset in the rear. I currently have over 20,000 mi. on my chainrings and my cassette. A new chain every 2,000 mi is cheap compared to what you will pay for the other drivetrain components. That 2,000. mi is based on aggressive riding, so if your riding is more laid back you might be able to get 3,000 mi. Of course with the new 11 speeds the chain plates are thinner, and you know what that means.

Avoiding "Man's Best Friend"

I got an idea for a TOTW from riding on a rural road in Iowa. Just a couple miles from my turn around 300 meters up the road stood 2 of "mans best friends" in the road. I have encountered many dogs in my years of riding of all different sizes but, this I could sense was not the time to test out an all out Adrenalin rush and use my best sprinting abilities to get by them. What is it about mans best friend when he or she is on a bicycle?

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Keep Those Tires Aired Up

Always air up your tires before every ride. Tires can loose up to 7 lbs. of pressure in 24 hrs. On the side wall of your tires you can find suggested psi info. You can safely add 10 lbs. to this number without any worry but, will give you a little harsher ride. I ride Continentals 4000 tire and always inflate my rear to 120, and front to 110. Having the correct psi will give you less rolling resistance while eliminating pinch flats from hitting something sharp and hard especially if you are a heavier rider.

How to Check Carbon Frames for Damage

From VeloNews' Lennard Zinn:
"Inspect all tubes for cracks, gouges, buckles, dents, and paint stretching or cracking, especially near the joints where stress is highest. With a carbon frame, use the "coin test" to check for damage to underlying carbon layers. Tap on the tube with a quarter in the questionable areas and compare it with the sound on other tubes, in surrounding areas, and on the opposite side. If you have delamination or cracking in underlying carbon layers, especially in central areas away from the joints, you'll be able to hear the difference; the damaged fibers deaden the nice "clack" sound you hear when tapping on an undamaged tube. If in doubt, take it to an expert for advice. Carbon structures that look good on the outside shouldn't get softer unless the layers start delaminating, and the coin test may be able to detect such areas."

What is in Your Saddle Bag

Everyone carries a saddle bag right? In yours you should have 2 tubes, 2 CO2 cartridges (16 gram) unless you carry a frame pump. A patch kit, tire irons, 10 bucks preferably in case you need to bribe a driver for a ride home. This $10 bill can also be used as a boot for the inside of your tire casing if you get a cut to big for a patch. But most importantly, is the need to have some form of ID and a contact # in case of an emergency. Hopefully you will never need the last item.

Chamois Cream

For those of you who are fairly new to our sport, and are doing a long ride that involves more than 2 hrs. of saddle time, I highly recommend some sort of chamois cream to protect you from chaffing and the dreaded "saddle sore" which in the past has kept even the pro's off the bike for a few days. The brand Chamois Butt'r Eurostyle is a good one that is formulated to create a cooling and soothing effect.