Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Commuter Tips

I commute all year long, but many of you will just be getting started soon.
The weather is turning early this year and cyclists have already been out in droves over the past weekend. While we may see a dip back to Winter-ish conditions, they are sure not to last long. March is nigh and the days grow longer.....

So, I decided to list some early season tips for commuting to help get you started in 2017. These may also work for anyone that is just getting their bike out for the year as well.
  • Check Your Bike: You haven't ridden in more than a few weeks? Months? Then you need to air up your tires, dust off the bike entirely, and check to see if your chain feels wet with lube. If it doesn't- lube your chain before you ride and let it sit 24hrs before use. Lubing a chain just before a ride doesn't do anything but make your frame messy and throw lube off the chain. Just exactly what you don't want to do. 
  • Test Ride Your Bike: Don't wait till the morning of your first commute or the final minutes leading up to that first big ride to realize that your bicycle needs work. Take it for a short ride, shift through ALL of the gears, and test the brakes. If anything seems out of sorts, bring in your bike to Europa Cycle & Ski for your tune up.  
  • Watch For Early Season Debris: Since you last rode your bicycle in the Fall, all kinds of garbage has collected on the streets. Sand is the worst of these things. Heading into corners, be aware that traction will be compromised. Also- bits of car plastic broken off in fender benders, from car valances and rocker panels, glass, and all sorts of sharp objects are in the gutters mixed in with that sand. Beware of running through this stuff because it is easy to flat this time of year until we get that "gully washer" rain or the street sweepers come out. 
  • Make Sure You Can Be Seen! Bontrager and several other cycling brands are doing scientific research which is showing that daytime flashers and wearing brightly colored and reflective bits on our moving parts is the best way to be seen by motorists. So, get a front and rear flashing light, and consider wearing reflective ankle bands or brightly colored bits on your legs. I've been wearing bright orange bands, brightly colored bandanas, or reflective ankle bands for years, and with the lights, you get a lot more respect from cars out there. 
  • Research Your Route: make sure that you are using the lowest traffic count roads that you can. These will not be the ones you would use in your car going to work, typically. Make an adventure out of looking into a route by trying it out on a weekend or another time when you don't have to actually use it for getting to work. The pressure will be off to make time and you can critically analyze your route to tweak it out to be the safest and most effective cycling route possible for your needs. 
Any questions? Call me up at Europa and ask for Guitar Ted. I'd be glad to help out, or anyone else there could answer a question as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

RAGBRAI Overnight Towns Announced

Image courtesy of Bike Iowa
Saturday the RAGBRAI overnight towns were introduced as a part of the Iowa Bicycle Expo. The annual ride is coming up on its 45th edition and will have a Northerly track this time which means pretty flat until you get into the last day.

The overnights are as follows:
  • Orange City
  • Spencer
  • Algona
  • Clear Lake
  • Charles City
  • Cresco
  • Waukon
  • Lansing
 Please see BIKE IOWA for more details.

We expect that along with the easier route, that the proximity of the route to Waterloo will amp up interest in doing RAGBRAI this year over last. With that in mind, you should get your rig in NOW and have it tuned up. Beat the rush and all that, don't cha know.

So here is a bit of mechanic insider info for you. Many folks wait to get their bikes tuned up right before the event so that (a) they have a "fresh tune up", or (b) "insure themselves" against failures. Okay, let's take "a" first.....

If your bicycle gets an early Spring tune up, and you train on it, assuming you weren't on the verge of wearing out parts and opted not to replace them, your bicycle tune up will still be "fresh". A good, thorough bicycle tune up done by a professional will be good for a season of use, barring unforseen issues like crashes, getting hit, or what have you, which leads me to.......

"b"- There are NO GUARANTEES that you will not have a flat tire, broken spoke, bad shifting due to someone inadvertently hitting your rear derailleur, or some other malady. Most RAGBRAI issues that occur happen NOT because you did not get a tune up just before RAGBRAI, but because something happened to your bike ON RAGBRAI. So, if you think, "I got a tune up a few days before RAGBRAI, so I am good.", well that won't stop most of the failures that happen on RAGBRAI from happening. The most common of which are flat tires and broken spokes, by the way.

So, if you want to relieve some stress just before RAGBRAI, have that bicycle tuned up now. That'll be one less thing on your list, and barring the unforeseen, you should be good to go for the event.

Stop in and see us now before the end of January for some really good tune up pricing.

Note: The "unofficial blog of Europa Cycle And Ski" reflects information that you cannot get anywhere else about Europa Cycle and Ski- not even from Europa's own social media channels. So stay tuned here for the best info you can get anywhere on Europa.