MITCH BARLOGA: Spring has sprung, so break out bike

2013-04-04T00:00:00Z 2013-08-14T17:57:07Z MITCH BARLOGA: Spring has sprung, so break out bikeBy Mitch Barloga nwitimes.com
April 04, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Apparently the calendar is telling us spring has arrived. The weather, however, has been telling us a different story. Last year we were wearing shorts in March. Well, winter is slowly losing its grip.

Recently, I rummaged through my garage to get my bike ready for the season, along with my son’s. In the process it dawned on me that many of you might not be familiar with getting your own bike in shape – so consider this a quick guide.

Only the very hearty ride through the winter, so if you are like most folks your bike is hanging up somewhere or relegated to the edges of your garage. Now that you are getting the itch to ride it, this is the perfect time to give it a once-over. There are a few inspections you need to make right off the bat.

First are the tires. Obviously they will need plenty of air. While down there pumping them up, you should also glance at the condition of the tire as well. Are the tire walls cracked and tread worn down? Are the spokes tight? As for tires, revisit them after your first ride to make sure they hold air. A new tube might be needed. Also, always check air pressure before every ride.

Now onto the brakes and shifting cables. Although this might sound complicated, it’s not as difficult as you think. Sometimes just a quick tightening of screws can make a world of difference. Check the brake pads, too. It could be time for a replacement if they are worn down.

Next is the chain. So often this extremely critical part gets overlooked, and over time the chain gets rusty and either breaks or falls off. A simple way of avoiding this problem is to clean and lube the chain. There are plenty of how-to sites online to guide you through this basic process.

By following the ABC’s of maintenance (Air, Brakes, Cranks/gears) you will be well on your way to enjoying your bike this season, and for many more to come.

You can always take your bicycle to an experienced mechanic who can look it over, usually at no charge and while you wait. I definitely recommend this if your bike has been dormant for several years, or if you are not mechanically inclined.

Again, the Internet is replete with many good ideas and tips to keep your bike in working condition.

If you need a bike/hike map of Northwest Indiana, go to www.nirpc.org/greenways-blueways for details on obtaining one. Happy trails!

Mitch Barloga is non-motorized transportation and greenways planner for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. The opinions are the writer's.

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