Thursday, September 7, 2017

6 Tips on Bike Maintenance

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. 

Sign Up for Singapore Duathlon Now!

To call triathlon a challenging sport is stating the obvious. Right after you sign up, you are expected to ready yourself on the date of the race. You will either get yourself running or biking or doing both the next day or get the help of coaching services to prepare your mind and body for it. This usually takes months of conditioning and strengthening your body. You improve your skills in the three sports -swimming, biking, running - and aim to secure a strong finish. Somehow, engaging in other sports is too much or out of the question. Your plate is already full with workouts leaving no room to try anything else.

However, common expert advice during off season encourages you to engage in some cross-training. Get into other sports so as to also develop your strength in triathlon sports as a result. What if you do that (engaging in other sports) during the season and even take it as your ultimate workout, doing it once just to see how far your body (and legs) can go. You probably by now know where I'm heading - yes, why not try duathlon to improve on your triathlon skills, in particular, your skills in cycling and running.

This sport has always been treated as a lower multi-sports race compared with triathlon as many consider it fairly easier considering it only engages two sports (cycling and running). But this assumption proves to be wrong, especially if we are going to base it from triathlete’s testimonies who have tried duathlon once. They say duathlon proves to be harder and a more challenging sport than triathlon due to the fact sandwiching cycling between two running session makes a heavy toll on the legs. You are either dehydrated or your legs lack glycogen (‘fuel’) that they become heavy and fatigue when you reach the last running phase – yes we know, you also experience it in triathlon but duathlon is harder since there are two running segments.

A Little History

Duathlon is a multi-sport distance racing involving, cycling and running. The race is typically segmented where you need to run, then cycle and run again. This sports fairly gained popularity during the 70’s when it was developed and this continued until the 80’s. It has produced for example two world champions like Ai Ueda of Japan and Rob Woestenborghs of Belgium.

But the during the 90’s, it failed to continue its rise in popularity to stand side by side with triathlon, which then had been gaining followers all over the world. This was mainly due to lack of sponsorship. Sports buff could hardly see and even catch it on TV – another reason why it lost steam in gaining more enthusiasts.

Yet, as of recent development, there is a rebirth of duathlon in the 2000’s thanks to the effort of USA Triathlon, the U.S. multisport racing national governing body. Because of these, there are now many duathlon races being held in the state, and the world is also catching up in this resurgence.

Duathlon is a Fantastic Sports for Triathlon

Considering duathlon only engages two sports, cycling and running, this can greatly improve your triathlon goals in many aspects. Duathlon can teach you how to zone in on your cycling and running exclusively, and this can prove even harder since your legs in the last running segment will encounter lots of issues. Besides this, duathlon can help you in perfecting your transition (which many considered as the Fourth Event) and lastly, getting an ultimate brick workout to benefit you triathlon aspirations.

Addressing the Bike-Run Transition. This is probably one of the hardest segments of duathlon that can greatly influence how you perform in your next triathlon race. By the time you reach the third segment, you will experience the challenge of bike-run transition. This is the time when it is hard to run since by this time your body is already glycogen-depleted thus making your legs unresponsive or heavy. This is the time when there are no more ‘fuel’ in your body to make you run fast. Another thing is hydration may have set in that it is already making a toll on you. Lastly, the adjustment you need to do from biking to running takes time for your neuromuscular coordination to catch up. You want to run but your legs still have its mode to cycle. All of these can be addressed by engaging in a duathlon since your body will get familiar with this experience.

Ultimate Brick Workout. As triathlon training usually entails you to do a brick workout, duathlon can be the perfect real-race workout for you. You will engage yourself in a long duration of cycling and run that can test your actual endurance. Here you will definitely learn why doing a brick workout is called as such as the ultimate way. In the process, the recovery time for you to adjust from biking to running will shorten – though you also have to be careful as cramps normally happen during this stage so listen to how your body works.     

Perfecting the Transition. Every duathlon or triathlon involves several events, but those who try this race agree that the transition between each segment is the Fourth Event. You fail on this transition phase and you lose valuable time clock in the race. At the same time, succeeding in mastering and perfecting this stage shaves off a lot of time in your race. When running in duathlon, you get to practice in an actual race, this important phase to the smallest detail.

Conclusion

As we are thinking about other sports that can benefit your triathlon goals as a result, joining a duathlon comes to mind. This multi-sports race involving cycling and running may look easier compared with triathlon, however, testimonials from veteran and seasoned triathletes state otherwise. You may even develop yourself in the end as a stronger triathlete when you put yourself in actual duathlon race - what with mastering the bike-run transition, getting the ultimate brick workout, and perfecting the transition phases.

So start signing up for the next Singapore Duathlon now!