There’s a big race coming up. You’ve spent weeks, or even months, preparing yourself, riding as much as possible, watching what you eat, and even ditching friends and family so you could train. You are ready… or, at least as ready as you will be! The last thing you want is a mechanical to put you out of the race, wasting all the hard work you’ve put into preparing for the race. Here are some tips to make sure your bike is as ready to race as you are.
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”
While I’m not sure if Confucious really said that, I am sure it’s good advice. Getting the bike ready starts long before the race, two or three weeks out actually. You wouldn’t wait to do all of your training until the day before, would you? So why wait to check the bike until the day before? The night before a race is NOT the time to be doing major work on your bike! Starting early will give you time to replace any worn parts (which you probably don’t have laying around and will have to order) and get them broken in before the race. Here’s what you should look into:
Tires: Check your tires for wear and damage. Inspect the sidewalls and the tread, look for cuts, bulges, embedded debris, anything that could cause a failure. If you’re not confident in a tire, replace it.
Brake Pads: How much life is left in your brake pads? Is it enough to get you through that 50 mile race if it rains? Having an extra set to carry with you just in case isn’t a bad idea. Brake pads are like toilet paper – there are nasty consequences for running out.
Stans: How long since you last topped off the sealant in your tubeless tires? If you shake the wheel and don’t hear Stans splashing around inside, you need to add some more.
Drivetrain: If your ride is shifting smooth, then great, move on. If it’s not good, figure out why and get it fixed. Take it to your favorite LBS and let them tune it up, replace what’s worn out (chain, cassette, cables, etc). If you had to replace the cables, be glad you’re smart and got it done early. Now you have time to break them in and get the initial “stretching” over with and get the system re-tuned so it’s running like a sewing machine on race day.
Hidden Dangers: When was the last time you checked your chainring and cleat bolts? Probably never, right? Most of us never think about them. Well now is the time to check – I’ve read too many race reports where someone lost one of these critical bolts and were not able to finish the race. You don’t want to be That Guy. (example: 3 days before the 50 mile Fools Gold my buddy Ross discovered that 2 of his chainring bolts were missing and another was loose!)
On the night before the race you need to get all of your stuff taken care of. That way, the morning of the race you don’t have anything to do except get dressed and get to the start line. Get your clothes laid out, food prepared and ready, pack your hydration pack with whatever tools you’re taking. Here’s a good checklist for prepping your bike the night before:
Tire Pressure: Get your tires aired up to whatever pressure you plan on using.
Drivetrain: Wipe away as much dirt and grime as possible and re-lube your chain. A smooth, quiet drivetrain goes a long way toward making you feel good on race day.
Hidden Dangers: Check those chainring and cleat bolts one more time.
Go Get Some
Alright, you’re ready – get some sleep, you’ll need it! In the morning all you have to do is eat, fill up your bottles/hydration pack, get to the venue and put on your riding clothes. Oh, and don’t forget to take that all important pre-race potty break!