by Vanessa McCracken
Special discount offer at the end of this post.
Happy Summer! After the unusually rainy start to 2017, many of you are probably just now pulling your bikes out of the garage for the first time this year. Whether you’re getting your bikes ready for neighborhood bike rides, camping trips, or to escape the heat and ride the trails in Central Coast, I have a few recommendations to help you have the safest, most enjoyable experience possible.
First, please take a second to check over your bike before you plan to ride it. Too often we hear about trips/rides getting ruined because it was discovered at the last second that bikes had a flat or had some other mechanical issue preventing it from being ridden. Air up the tires to the recommended tire pressure (listed on the tire’s sidewall) and check them the next day to make sure they hold air. Check the gears, make sure the brakes work and don’t rub, clean and lube the chain. Also important is checking to make sure the quick-release levers or axle nuts securing your wheels are snug and secure. If this all seems like too much or if you just don’t have the time or desire to do it yourself, you can always bring it by the shop for a free safety check. Trust us—a little foresight will save you a lot of frustration and disappointment and help keep everyone around you relaxed and happy.
Next, I always strongly recommend everyone install sealant to help prevent flats. If you’re out for a fun family bike ride, I really don’t think you want to stop while everyone patiently? waits in the warm summer sun for you to fix a flat. If your bike has schraeder valve tubes (same valve as your car tires), I suggest thorn-resistant tubes with sealant as a super effective way to prevent flats. If your bike is like mine and has the skinny presta valves, though, Orange Seal is the way to go! Trust me, the money spent on tubes and sealant is worth preventing the headache of fixing flats mid-ride!
Even if you do install tubes and sealant, it is still important to carry a little flat repair kit with you while you’re out riding. No flat prevention is 100% foolproof, and it’s wise to be prepared just in case, especially if you’re riding out of town or out on a camping trip or with your whole family in tow. Get a little CO2 inflator or mini pump, a couple tire levers (promise me you won’t use a screwdriver), a patch kit, and a spare tube so that you’ll be prepared to fix a flat if you have to. (If you’re riding with your whole family, make sure to pack a spare tube for all the different size tires in the group so nobody’s left walking home.) If you’re not sure how to fix a flat, check out our Events Calendar for one of our monthly demonstrations or hands-on clinics!Another thing that I think is important is to check everyone’s helmets for proper fit. Kids grow fast, and the helmet your child wore last summer may no longer fit. Helmets should be worn level on the head so that the visor is pointing forward, not tilted back with the visor pointing up. You want it snug and you want the straps to be positioned and tightened so they don’t slip off the front of the chin. If your child is fidgety or checking the fit is otherwise a challenge, you’re more than welcome to bring the helmet and your child to the shop for us to do it for you! Bring yours, too, and we’ll get yours adjusted correctly while you’re here! An obvious but often overlooked summer tip is to make sure you have adequate hydration for your ride. Summers in the Valley are HOT, and it is important to make sure everyone is drinking water throughout the ride. Water bottle cages and bottles are inexpensive and make it easy to reach down for a quick drink of water while you’re riding—no stopping to open a bottle, just squirt and sip! I switch to insulated water bottles in the summer and freeze them half-full the night before to help my water stay cooler longer for my rides. Sometimes kids bikes don’t have room for a water bottle to fit, but there are cages that mount to the handlebars and other solutions available. Likewise, if your bike doesn’t have mounts for cages, there are workarounds for that, too.
A not-as-obvious and often overlooked tip if traveling with bikes this summer is to make sure the bike rack on your car is installed correctly and that your bikes are mounted properly and securely. I’ve seen some wild configurations on the road, and I’ve heard lots of horror stories about bikes falling off or getting dragged down the freeway. Take a few minutes to double-check that your rack is secure, and if you have any questions at all when loading the bikes up, err on the side of caution and ask for help.
Hopefully this helps you enjoy miles of awesome family time on your bikes this summer! We would love to see photos of the fun you’re having on your bikes. Tag us @ridesunnyside on Instagram or @SunnysideBicycles on Facebook to share the joy!
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