Getting Ready…

Many of you are getting ready for your “A” race of the year.  I’m getting a barrage of questions about equipment, mostly about when and how much work to do on the bike immediately before a race.

In keeping with the mantra of “nothing new on race day” I would suggest the following:

  • No new “touch points”  – anything that you touch on the bike should NOT be changed immediately before a race.  seat, handlebars, pedals should all remain the same.
  • Do NOT replace cables.  Cables will stretch over the first several rides and may lead to mis-shifting or poor braking.  Unless the cables are very badly worn, save the changes for AFTER race day, and replace cables & housings at the same time
  • Do NOT install a SMALLER gear set – moving from a 12-27 to an 11-23 immediately before your big day is a very bad idea.  You should keep the gearing you have been training in assuming you have been training on terrain similar to your race course.  Moving to a LARGER gear set is a better idea if you feel you need extra bail-out gears..
  • No major drivetrain changes – unless the specific part is broken or very badly worn, leave it alone.  Now is not the time to install new ceramic bearing in your bottom bracket or wheelset.  Too much can go wrong!

All the above are conditional on safety.  If there is anything on your bike is unsafe, then it must be fixed before race day!

So what SHOULD you do prior to race day?  Here is a quick list:

  • Wash that thing!  – You have been putting mega-miles on the bike, it’s time to show it some TLC with a thorough washing and polishing.  The Park Tool website has good instructions for washing your bike:
  • Properly lubricate the drivetrain.  A must-do after the washing.
  • Safety inspection – check the frame for any cracks, check for a loose headset, check the brake pads for excessive wear, check the tires for cracks, holes or slices, and check the wheels for any wobbles.
  • Replace handlebar tape.  Yeah, I said no new touch points.  This is the ONE exception.  New bar tape is a treat for the eyes and the hands.  If you race without gloves (like I do) nothing really feels as good as fresh bar tape on race morning.

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