The first time riding alone can be a little daunting for some, but getting over that initial hurdle will open so many doors to new activities, more independence, and good times. It’s all about being prepared, and there are a few, quick extra steps you should take to ensure your ride stays focused on the fun.
1. Do an ABC Quick Check
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure your bike is in working order. If it hasn’t been long since your last ride, give your bike a quick 5-point inspection. An easy way to remember the steps is ABC Quick Check:
A – Air: Check to see if your tires have adequate tire pressure. (Read the details about how to find your ideal tire pressure here.)
B – Brakes: Check your front and rear brakes to ensure they are working. Make sure you can reach the brake levers comfortably, then squeeze them and push the bike forward. If the wheel turns, you’ll need to get your brakes checked before riding.
C – Chain: Spin your pedals backward and make sure the cranks don’t wiggle from side-to-side and that you don't hear grinding noises. (A rusty chain drags, changes gears poorly, and could possibly break. Make a practice of regularly cleaning and lubricating your chain to ensure your bike shifts smoother and the drivetrain lasts longer.)
Quick: Check the quick release skewers on your wheels and make sure they are tight enough to keep the wheels on.
Check: Check your bike for broken or loose parts and tighten them. Take a quick test ride to ensure your gears shift properly.
If your bike has been sitting unused for a while, take it to a professional for an inspection. Our service department can bring almost any bike up to speed. How a bike is stored can also affect how it functions, and a bike living in a hot garage will require more frequent attention than one stored in a climate-controlled environment.
2. Be prepared
A saddlebag, Camelbak, or any kind of pack with a few tools can help you take care of any minor mechanical incidents that may occur while riding. One of the most common incidents is a flat tire, and a flat repair kit will be your best friend. Your kit should include a tube, CO2 cartridge setup or hand-help pump, tire levers, patch kit, plugs, and a tire boot. You should also include a multi-tool in your bag which can be used to tighten common areas that become loose (seat post, saddle, stem, cranks, MTB wheels, or thru-axle) or repair a broken chain. And always make sure you pack enough hydration and nutrition to get you through the ride.
3. Be Visible
Make sure you can see and be seen at all times. Lights are not only critical for helping you to see where you’re going when it’s dark, they also alert cars and others sharing the road of your presence. Always have a back and front light and consider using them during the day as well. High-viz clothing also helps you to stand out while riding. We have options from helmet to toe that, when paired with lights, will help to make sure that you are seen. Bike bells are another way to let others know you are approaching from behind or to alert someone before entering a blind corner.
4. Be Safe
Always use your best common sense, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Know the rules of the road and trail so you know how to ride in harmony with your environment and to help guide your decisions. Bring your ID, your phone, and cash or a credit card on your ride in case of emergency or unexpected needs (like snacks). Share your riding plans with someone if you can, wear a Road ID, and update your In Case of Emergency number in your cellphone.
Now, it's time to ride! And, as always, have fun out there!