If you are looking for that perfect cycling holiday in the perfect setting and you have waited all year to climb that famous Col and then, your chain snaps, or your brakes fail or you just grind up the first slope worried that all that winter training has gone to waste. Your bike is needs just as much attention as you do so make sure it is in perfect working order before you pack it for the plane.
Keep Your Bike In Shape
The cost of looking after your bike is insignificant compared to the expense of your holiday so do not scrimp on this aspect – best to save on those new sunglasses…… well, lets not go too far!!
Before you leave home for your holiday!
If you can have your bike fully serviced then have it done or do it yourself.
- Braking System – New pads, cable inner greased, levers work correctly, no corrosion.
- Gears & Chain – new chain, no wear on the cassette, gears change smoothly
- Wheels & Tires – Wheels are true, tires are not worn, check for grit and glass, spare tubes
- Bearings – Headset is tight and greased, Bottom Bracket is smooth
- Clean – a clean bike always rides better and faster
- bicycling tours – Well packed Keep your bike in shape
Packing your bike for your holiday!
Either buy a suitable bike bag or box or rent one for the week.
- Dismantle Saddle – Take out the seat post (leave seat attached and mark height of tube with tape)
- Rear Derailleur – take off rear derailleur (one Allen bolt into frame) wrap and tape to frame
- Handlebars – Loosen stem on headset and loosen handlebars, twist and secure, do not dismantle headset
- Pedals – Take off your pedals and keep with the quick release skewers from you wheels
- Wheels – Take off your wheels, leave pumped up and put the skewers with your pedals
- Pack into bag or box but keep your shoes, helmet and one set of cycling kit in your hand luggage
- Always pack your shoes in your hand luggage
As many airline have a limit on large luggage (of course the golf clubs take priority over bikes) and this may follow on later, pack your shoes, helmet and one set of kit into your carry on so you can rent a bike but still ride until your bike arrives. Check out this great video on how to prep and pack your bike for a flight.
Before each ride on your holiday
Before you go out on each days ride, you need to have a bike that works in every way.
- Tires – Check for flints, cuts and wear. Let two-thirds of the air out of your tire and starting at the valve, inspect every centimeter of the tire’s circumference by squeezing the walls together and looking for “holes” with bits in them. With a scribe or opened paper clip carefully tease every chunk of glass, thorn or debris from the tread. Don’t stop until you get to the valve again.
- Brakes – Make sure your brakes touch both sides of the rim at exactly the same time. If the brake blocks are set right, you’ll hear a reassuring clunking sound and feel a positive response from your brake lever when you sharply apply the brake. If you don’t hear the sound, the chances are one pad is touching the wheel before the other. If one touches before the other, as you look directly down over the top of your tire, you’ll see the wheel move. Tweak the brake by centralising it until it doesn’t and you hear the “clunk”. If your wheel is getting pushed to one side the brake lever will feel spongy.
- Cables and pads – Cables and their outer sheaths should obviously not be damaged or unraveled. When the wheels are out you should also check the pads for depth and “bits” in the drain channels. If there are, get them out.
- Headset – It shouldn’t move when the front brake is full on (no back brake) and you push the bike forward. It shouldn’t stick when you lift the bike off the floor and let the bars roll from side to side and it shouldn’t rattle when you drop the front wheel back to the ground.
If you’re passionate about cycling your bike is likely to be something that is very precious to you and if you have never touched it before then you will be surprised how easier it is to ride when it is in perfect working order. The above steps will keep your machine working in tip top condition, ready for an adventure in the Pyrenees!