By ALP Coach Jen Sharp
Winter training can be dirty. Especially if you live some where wet and cold. Colorado swings between too cold to ride outside and mild weather. Even though appreciated and loved, the mild weather brings snow melt and dirty roads. Dirt and grime can quickly ruin your drive train and could result in costly repairs. Here are a few tips on how to clean your bike and keep you out of the repair shop.
1. Get your bike dirty. Go ahead, get outside. Ditch your trainer for another day. Riding through any wet section of road will result in your bike becoming camouflaged in dirt quickly. Enjoy the wind in your face and soak up that feeling of freedom because when you get home, you have work to do.
2. Finish your ride and find a big bucket, filling it with warm water and soap. I've found Dawn dish washing soap works the best for taking off grease and grime and prevents streaks. Use an old sponge - perhaps that old one in the kitchen that should be thrown out? And while you're at it, find that old toothbrush you've been meaning to throw out.
3. Take your bike outside and hose it down. Use enough water and pressure to get the big chunks off.
4. Use degreaser on your chain. This will cut through the grit and grime quickly. Make sure you're in a well ventilated area if not outside. Hose off the degreaser once it's done its magic.
5. Start soaping up your steed. She earned it. I usually start with the bike first and then move onto the wheels. Once you've cleaned the wheels, go ahead and remove them from the frame so you can go those hard to reach spots. Clean back behind your brakes, on the underside of the down tube, crank arms, pedals, any where you see dirt and places where you don't. Clean between the spokes and the spokes themselves on your wheels and make sure to get the rims nice and clean. Use a toothbrush to clean between the sprockets of the cassette from all angles.
6. Hose your bike down again. Take a look and see if you missed anything.
7. If you got everything, use a clean rag to wipe down the frame first and then the wheels, saving the chain for last. Then run the chain forwards and backwards through the cloth, wiping off any extra grease/grim and water.
8. Put your wheels back on and then grease your chain. Make sure to grease your chain before you put your bike away! Not doing so could result in a rusty chain.
Keeping your bike clean is part of being a cyclist. Time spent taking care of your equipment will help prevent wear and tear and keep it functioning longer. You'll spend less time in the shop and more time in the saddle!
Editors note- routine maintenance should be something you do to your bike year round. Every 2000 miles change your bike's cables/housing and chain. Keep tabs on your tires, as winter riding can ruin tires more quickly. Rotate and/or replace tires as needed to avoid needing a mid ride car pick-up to get home.