So you got all your gear for your triathlon training and racing ready. You got your triathlon suit, goggles, swim cap, wetsuit, bike shoes, running shoes, helmet, singlet, and what else? Yes, your bike. This is basically the only machine you need to rely on in getting good training sessions and probably a strong finish during the actual race. You forget to take care of it and this could very well mean not performing during all your triathlon-related activities. Sure you will not have a problem swimming and running, but triathlon does not go without biking.
This gives you more of a reason to take care of your bike through proper maintenance. This avoids unnecessary hassles during your training days as well as the race proper. You do not want, of course, to make your training days perennial disrupted due to a broken chain, faulty brakes, or even worn brake pads, for example. You want your training days spent on the road and not sitting most of the time waiting for a bike repair to save you. As they say: Take care of your bike and it will take care of you.
Let’s then discuss then the basic proper maintenance of your bike:
Removing Dirt and Rust on Typical Areas
Your triathlon training will sometimes make you cycle on wet roads and coastal areas. This makes dust and salty beach air contribute to the accumulation of dirt and rust in your bike. Moreover, your usual aero position when training can make your sweat drip on the handlebar thus the possibility of your bike developing rust becomes greater.
The usual places where rust and dirt can develop and accumulate are bottom bracket tube and spindle, rear freewheel or cassette, brakes (including the calipers and pad), derailleur, and front fork. You can use a clean rag or WD40 as a light lubricant to take out dirt and grime. You can then finish it off with a normal lubricant to better protect your bike.
Maintaining the Drivetrain
Your bike’s drivetrain includes the chain, freewheel, derailleur’s jockey, cassette, and chainrings. As much as possible you want to maintain your drivetrain clean of grime and grit. This mechanical system dictates or influences whether you can bike smoothly or not. When this part of the bike accumulates lots of grime, this also can result in more friction that can wear out your bike components. It is a common observation that when your drivetrain is gritty due lack of regular proper cleaning, the chain does not last long. Though chains are not expensive, it can be a drag to your triathlon training as you spend your time repairing your bike.
To prevent this from happening, you can clean your drivetrain by using a rag to wipe away dirt on your chain rings. You can also spray, or apply through brush with stiff bristles, degreaser on the chain, chainrings, and derailleurs. After you do this, you can finish it off with a bike cleaner before finally rinsing off. You can also apply this same procedure to the cassette by applying degreaser and using a rag to clean the space between the sprockets. If the cassette has accumulated a lot of dirt, then you may need to remove it so you can clean it thoroughly.
After you have done this, it is good to lube the chain considering it can get dry due to too much exposure from elements when you train.
Checking the Tires
This is probably one of the common maintenance you will do for your bike. Check your tires regularly for any kind of damages, bulges, sidewall cracks, and worn tread. This will save you time from experiencing flat tires when they can be avoided only if you’ve done this regularly. Take note of any spot wherein the tube is showing, due to cuts for example. This means you need to replace your tire. Take note also of threats to your tires like embedded tiny objects such as nails or shard of glass. Most of the times, if you found them embedded in your tires and attempt to take them out, you will find a leak on your tire.
Checking the Brake Pad
This very important, though small, part of your bike, sometimes gets little attention even if you check your bike regularly. You know when it is time to replace it when the grooves or teeth in the rubber are gone. This makes it unresponsive when you pull for a break, usually pressing too hard until you touch the handlebar. If the grooves or teeth are still distinct but the rim brake is unresponsive, you may probably just need adjusting your brakes.
Maintaining Bar Tape
Maintaining your bar tape is easy as you only need to look at it and check whether it starts to loosen or unravel. If you see it in this state, you definitely need to replace it. When you let it stay this way, salt and sweat can seep through it and damage your bike components.
If it’s still okay, the proper way to make it clean is scrubbing it with oven cleaner or even toothpaste, especially for white-colored bar tapes.
Tightening the Headset
Usually, you will need to recheck or tighten your headset when if you notice or feel some delay when you put on brakes in your front wheel or there is a clunking in your headset when braking. A good way to check whether your headset is properly tightened is to stand before your bike and try to push it forward or backward. If there’s some movement in the fork, then you need to tighten the headset.
These are just some of the basic maintenance checklist that you have to observe in keeping your bike in good condition. Remember, your ability to train well and actually perform stronger in the actual triathlon race can be affected by your bike’s condition. Failure to do this simple, basic maintenance can greatly limit how you can effectively train to develop your strength and endurance. For better race results then, keep it clean and well-maintained.