Posted on Leave a comment

Want to be a better cyclocross racer? Avoid the avoidable, says coach Chris Mayhew.

man lying on ground with bike
With the upcoming United States Cyclocross National Championships , we invited JBV Coaching’s Chris Mayhew to share his thoughts on how to prepare for the big race at hand. Mayhew has actively raced for over 25 years – toeing the line at elite cyclocross, road, MTB and time trial events.  He puts on cycling training camps, cycling skills clinics, and rumor has it, he’s also quite the bike mechanic. In other words, Chris lives and dies for cyclocross and has the experience to know what makes a bike racer successful.  Anyone prepping for that “big race” has trained their body to be ready. Chris’s tips can ensure your bike is ready, too.
——————————————————————————————————-

You’ve spent months training and analyzing your data, hours researching the right hashtags and filters for your #crossiscoming posts and then on race day all that hard work comes undone from a preventable mechanical. Bummer.

Ben Bergeron says there are 5 things you can control as a racer: sleep, recovery, nutrition, training and mindset. I would add that for bike racing you can also control the initial state of your equipment. That said, I realize it’s challenging to put in the work as a bike racer and then have to be a bike mechanic too. My experience has proven there are two really easy ways to provide the best return on your time and keep your equipment in for cyclocross season.

First, wash your bike.

Bill Marshall (KCCX) getting the job done in fine fashion.

This can take many forms, and it’s somewhat situational dependent. After a muddy ride or race, the minimum you should do is lean the bike up against something and hit it with a hose to knock the majority of the mud off. This will keep your sidewalls and any metal parts on the bike happy along with the cables, if you still have any of those! Spend two minutes on this.

It doesn’t need to be perfect, it needs to be clean enough to lube a chain and see the details of the drivetrain components. The real action happens with a deeper wash, which should happen once a week. Remove the wheels, install a chain keeper, and put the bike in a repair stand. I prefer dropout-style repair stands for washing and detailed work, but also have the luxury of a standard upright repair stand too. Get a bucket, some brushes and some Dawn soap and go to town. This isn’t about being a black shoe, white sock roadie. Think of this as an active meditation with your bike. Clean all the surfaces, making sure some sort of cleaner (soap for the bike, de-greaser for the chain) gets liberally applied and washed off. As you do this, have a close look at the frame and all the moving, rotating and gliding components. Spin the cranks while you clean them and feel for looseness or crunchiness in the bearings (bottom bracket, pedal and derailleur). Think about any issues you had with the bike when you last rode it – the minute I dismount my bike, I seem to forget any problem I had until the next time I ride.

This whole bike wash process should take around 15-20 minutes from the time you fill the bucket until you put the bike back in storage. The main point in all of this is to engage with every part of the bike and catch things like bent chain links or worn cables before they become a problem on race day. This is a great time to quickly check your brake pads too.

So yes, you get a clean bike out of it, but more importantly it’s a bike inspection and preventative maintenance.

In tandem with the above, and maybe even while you still have it in the stand, check your bolts.

You don’t have to do this every week, but once a month run through the stem, seat-post and saddle bolts at minimum. I’m in love with my Feedback Sports Range for this sort of work. You can loosen and tighten any bolt with it (unlike most torque wrenches) and it comes in a very handy little case that keeps all the bits in one place. All my other torque bits are scattered somewhere across my work bench at this point. I’ve taken to just keeping my Range in my race clothing bag as a race day essential.

As I said earlier, bike maintenance is definitely something you can control – it’s called “preventative maintenance” for a reason, and it’s a great use of your time – I’ve witnessed too many races undone by the avoidable. And as with any task, the right tool makes it easier and faster to do, which means you’re more likely to do it.

Racing bikes is hard work, on and off the field. Don’t let all your hours of training and preparation come undone by one loose bolt. Spend some time owning the state of your equipment. Get it clean enough to notice any small issues before they become a race day nightmare. Run through the bolts periodically to make sure nothing is loose and don’t forget the bolts in your shoes. If you want to make all of the above easier  to perform there are some Feedback Sports items that would be worth putting on your wish-list.

Good luck at your races, and remember: you can often make your own luck.

——————————————————————————————————-

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Chris! Follow Chris on IG, Facebook and Twitter for more. You can also catch his articles on Cyclocross Magazine. 

Posted on Leave a comment

Bike Maintenance: 10 Essential Tips

House of spin

Spring is HERE!!  We love this article/video from Skratch Labs and House of Spin that bring you 10 bike maintenance ‘must do’s’!  Whether you’ve been slaving away on the trainer all winter, or you’re pulling that bike out of the shed for the first time, these tips and tricks will get you back out there in no time.

 1. Degrease your drivetrain.

Start by degreasing your drivetrain.  There are many commercial products available.  Pro tip: cut an old water bottle in half to hold degreaser and keep it in the bottle cage for easy access.  Use a small brush to apply to all sides of the chain, chainrings, cassette and derailleurs.  Rinse off degreaser.

Products used: Morgan Blue (degreaser solution), Shimano (crankset, cassette and derailleurs), Zipp (wheels), KMC (chain), Feedback Sports (Sprint work stand), Elite Cycling (bottle cages), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset)

2. Wash your frame & wheels.

Wash your frame and wheels.  Put together a cleaning kit of a bucket, soap, and brushes. Nylon brushes work fine, but horsehair versions prevent grease and dirt from accumulating on the brush.  Pro tip: use a nylon chainguide so you can wash the frame and wheels separately.

Products used: Morgan Blue (chain keeper), Park Tools (brush), Tampico (brushes), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset), Elite Cycling (bottle cages), Victory Circle Graphic (top tube sticker)

3. Inspect the frame for damage.

Inspect the frame for any cracks, dents or damage that may have occurred last season and gone unnoticed over the winter.  Be sure to check often overlooked areas like underneath the downtube, bottom bracket and seatstays.  Check cable rub at the headtube, and apply frame protector stickers as necessary.

Products used: Wheels Manufacturing (bottom bracket), Ritte Cycles (bike frameset), Elite Cycling (bottle cages)

Click here for the rest of the article and happy cleaning!