Cyclists, it's time for a spring tuneup
With the arrival of spring, it's time to dust off the bicycle. But first, give it a checkup with our infographic as a guide.
Special to The Seattle Times
Ride onUpcoming cycling events
LOOKING FOR A REASON to get your bike up and running? Here are some springtime rides to get you cranking those pedals:
Saturdays and Sundays: Cascade Training Series, various locations. Cascade Bicycle Club offers a series of weekend rides of gradually increasing distances to prepare riders for the Seattle-to-Portland ride and other Northwest long rides. Information: www.cascade.org/EandR/Ride_CTS.cfm or 800-476-0681, Ext. 18.
April 4: Tulip Pedal, La Conner. Twenty-, 40- and 60-mile rides through the tulip fields between La Conner and Mount Vernon and down to Samish and Padilla bays. Cost: $25. The event is sponsored by Skagit County Medic One and Safe Kids Skagit County and raises money for the prevention of bike-related child injuries. Information: www.skagitems.com/tpedal_main.htm or 360-428-3236.
April 19: Daffodil Classic, Orting, Pierce County. Forty-, 60- and 100-mile routes as well as a family-friendly paved-trail option of 1 to 30 miles. $17; $37 for families. Sponsored by Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club. Information: www.twbc.org/events or 253-815-9061.
May 25: 7 Hills of Kirkland, Kirkland. Hilly 40-, 62- and 100-mile routes encompassing the Eastside. Cost: $30 to $40 depending on distance. Fundraiser for Kirkland Interfaith Transitions in Housing (KITH), which assists the homeless on the Eastside. Information: www.7hillskirkland.org or 425-576-9531, Ext. 106.
June 13: Flying Wheels Summer Century, Redmond. Twenty-five, 45-, 65- and 100-mile rides through King and Snohomish counties. Cost: $30. Sponsored by Cascade Bicycle Club. Information: www.cascade.org/EandR/flying/index.cfm or 206-522-2453.
Where to learn moreREI's flagship store (222 Yale Ave. N., Seattle) offers free weekly Bike Maintenance 101 classes at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays in coming months (next class: April 7). More information: www.rei.com/stores/store_events.jsp?store=11 or 206-223-1944.
Seattle Bike Repair (5627 University Way N.E., Seattle) offers a dizzying array of bike maintenance and repair courses, from a basic intro class to an overhaul course where you learn how to rebuild your headset, wheel hubs, bottom bracket and more. Classes are small — most are only two or three people — and cost is figured hourly, like repair work, at $70 to $100 per hour. Estimates are one to two hours for the intro class to six to eight hours for the overhaul course. More information: www.rodcycle.com/articles/bikerepair.html or 206-527-0360.
Cascade Bicycle Club Education Foundation offers a wide range of classes in both bike commuting and maintenance. Classes range from free lunchtime seminars to multiweek series. Coming soon: free twice-monthly Intro to Bike Commuting classes at the King County Chinook Building, 401 Fifth Ave., Room 115, Seattle. The two-hour class starts at 11:30 a.m. Dates are April 9 and 21, and May 7 and 19. For more information: www.cbcef.org or 206-957-6623.
Spring has sprung and with it comes the promise of longer days, tulip and daffodil fields a-burst with color, and mucho abundant sunshine.
All right, two out of three ain't bad.
Nevertheless, now's the time to remove your bike from its place of winter hibernation — likely, shoved behind the folded-up pingpong table in the garage — and get it back on the roads and trails of the Great Northwest. But before you do, you'll need to give your bike a thorough once-over to ensure that it is ride-ready and safe.
In many cases, say if the bike was new or well-maintained last year, all that's needed is a little lube on the chain, a few pumps from the tire pump, and you're good to go.
"But if it's a long time since you've ridden it — and we saw this a lot last year when gas hit $4 a gallon and people brought in bikes they hadn't ridden for 10, 15 years — then you'll likely need a major tuneup," says Marty Pluth, general manager for Greenlake-based Gregg's Cycles. "Depending on the bike and what needs to be done, a major tuneup costs about $100."
You might have bald or cracked tires that need to be replaced. Teeth in your cassette — the gears there at the center of your rear wheel — that have been ground down to mere nubbins. A bottom bracket — that axlelike thingy that connects the two crank arms holding the pedals — that's shot and sounds like a meat grinder when you pedal. Or your bike may have any number of issues that need to be lubed, greased, replaced or otherwise addressed.
Sound intimidating? Some of these things you can do yourself depending on your mechanical inclination, interest and the contents of your toolbox. To ease your fears, we've put together a color poster that shows what areas to focus your inspection on, which tweaks and fixes you can do yourself and which ones you're probably better off letting a paid professional handle.
"A bike is like anything," Pluth says. "If you take care of it, it'll last you for a long time."
Reminders for safer cycling
1. Always wear a helmet.
2. Make sure your bike is safe to ride — tires inflated to recommended air pressure, brakes in proper working order, chain lubricated.
3. If you're going to ride when it's dark, make sure you have adequate lighting to ensure that you can be seen — use flashing headlights and taillights. Wear bright clothing and/or reflective gear such as arm or leg bands.
4. When riding alongside parked cars, be on the watch for opening doors; ride far enough out that an open door can't hit you.
5. Communicate with drivers by making eye contact at intersections; use hand signals when turning and stopping. Don't ride erratically.
6. When riding on urban trails such as the Burke-Gilman, remember that cyclists yield to pedestrians. Use a bell or your voice to signal to pedestrians and other riders when passing.
7. Remember: Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other road users.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company