Outside with Charlie: Gunk, guck and grit

By From page A6 | March 06, 2013


Riding your bike on the road, in the moutains or around town in winter always brings with it some road crud that starts to coat your ride. Wet weather in the valley, snow and ice in the high country, are part of the winter scene around our area.

The best of intentions to keep all that stuff off your bike can take a back seat to many things. It’s too cold, it’s too wet, the coffee and bagels really beckon to you.

Keeping the road slop off your bike is important. If you are in the higher reaches of the county, the sand that DOT puts on icy roads can really add a gritty layer of gunk onto your bike frame, chain, and gears. Trail trash if you are on your mountain bike does the same thing.

It isn’t necessary to spend an hour or more getting all that stuff off your bike. The big clean and tune is something you can do later.

The basic reasons for doing a quick clean after a sloppy ride are safety and economics.

Your brakes, whether they are regular or disc, when coated with trail or road grit, act like sandpaper on your wheel, or the disc. Ignore it long enough and your ability to stop when you want to may be severely compromised.

The economic issue rests with your chain, chain ring, gears, and derailleur, and your wallet. The grinding ability of the grit and guck is what will reduce the longevity of all those parts. It can also get a bit noisy with all those small particles of sand and rocks coursing through the chain ring and gears.

Grind all that stuff down enough, and you’ll have to head to one of our very good local bike shops to replace a few things, which is when your wallet takes a hit.

If you are a bit of a purist you know that anything like that also takes more effort to pedal, which could cost you when you are attempting to drop your buddy on a stiff uphill ride. Your bragging rights will suffer as a result.

When you get back home after a winter ride, take just a little bit of time to keep your bike in top riding shape.

Here are some simple tips that won’t take long to keep your bike in good condition.
After your winter ride, gently brush everything with a soft brush.
Then, hose down your bike.
Take a dry rag, or a few of them, and dry everything.
Make certain that the chain, gears, and derailleur are dry.
Lube the chain, chain ring, gears, and the roller wheels on the derailleur.
Hold a dry rag loosely around your chain while running it backwards to remove the excess oil.
Take a last good look at everything, clean what you missed, dry what may still be wet.
This should take something well short of a half hour. It’s time well spent, as your bike, especially your chain and gears, will last longer. Not only that, but you’ll look good while riding, an added bonus to be sure.

Keep riding. Get outside.

Charlie Ferris

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