Tuesday, April 12, 2011

rookie errors

I remember the first time I changed out my own mountain bike tires. It was springtime and I'd taken off my studs and installed some semi-slick tires (it was the mid-90s and semi-slicks were all the rage). Then I showed up for a ride w/some people I worked with and learned I'd put the back tire on the front wheel and the front tire on the back. What an embarrassing move for a gal who worked in a bike shop!

I'd like to share with you a few rookie errors to avoid this biking season. If you have more you'd like to share, please post them in "comments." We can all learn from other people's mistakes!

1) About those tires. Many mountain bike tires have specific rolling directions. They perform best when installed in the direction recommended by the manufacturer. Check the sidewall of each tire for an arrow showing which way the tire should roll. Note that some tires suggest a different direction for wet vs. dry conditions or if the tire is installed on the front or rear wheel. Always check before installing or prepare for the do-over!

2) Your seat bag. Quick! What inner tube is in your seat bag? Did you remember that you had a flat last fall and put the punctured tube back into your seat bag? This is just one tube mistake you can make. Another? Do you switch the seat bag back and forth between your road bike and mountain bike? Be sure you have a mountain tube in there! Did you get a new bike that has presta valve stems instead of the schraeder stem of your old bike? If you do, that tube will not fit your new rim. Better change it out, pronto!

3) Linked up. Peak into your seat bag again. Do you still have your Missing Link for repairing your bike's chain or did you loan it out to somebody who didn't have one? Time to replace it. Maybe you are the lucky girl with a new bike. If you went from an 8-speed cassette (the rear gears) to a 9-speed, you now have a narrower chain and will need a different link. Be sure to label the old one and keep it with the old bike or offer it to a friend who's on an 8-speed (aka 24 gears).

4) A little air! Do you use C02 cartridges (mostly for racing)? Make sure that the ones in your bag are still new. If they've been used, you'll see the puncture. Pick up some new cartridges and take the old ones to the metals recycler. Better yet, if you're not racing, get yourself a good portable pump and keep that on the bike or in your pack. Mother Earth thanks you.

5) Oh, was that a tailwind? This is for you early-season road riders who may be heading to Turnagain Arm to build your miles. If you think you're feeling really strong and you're amazed that you're already at Bird Point and thinking: why not just go all the way to Girdwood, think again. Fuel up with that energy bar or gel from your pack, turn around and prepare to downshift as you ride back home into the headwind.

That's it for now. Any you'd like to share? I'm going to go inspect my seat bag for the Wednesday clinic!

posted by rose


Phil B said...

In regard to number 1: - I often (depending on which tire I'm using, of course) run my tires backwards on purpose. I did this as I found that given the terrain I was riding in South Dakota (recent transplant to AK) that running them reverse provided better grip and control. I would add the caveat to number 1, that the rider should experiment to find out what works best for him or her.

Thank you.

bikegirl said...

Thanks for the note, Phil. I run my rear Larry snow bike tire "backward." I find it climbs better and think it should have been labeled that way to begin with!

Most of the time, I think manufacturers get tread direction right, but agree that in some conditions it may work better running in the opposite direction. I have a feeling that most of the Divas aren't going to experiment w/tread direction in their spare time!