So, you’re fit for Tour….how about your bike?
Getting your bike in shape for tour is just as important as getting your body trained. Here's a few words from our WOR Crew mechanic, Emma, who works at North City Cycles in Melbourne...
If you aren’t confident doing your own service, take your bike to a bike mechanic. Our partners at North City Cycles (NCC) in Thornbury are offering a special deal to Wide Open Road (WOR) customers: Regular Service cost is $60 (normally $80) and they will give you a 15% discount on all parts, accessories and bikes (if you need one!). Call 9480 4884 to book a time or visit their website to book online.
Here are some things to check on your bike prior to coming on tour.
Highly important for descending down the Pyrenees, Alps & Dolomites! Cables and brake pads need to be in tip top shape. Look for thinning/uneven wearing of pads or flecks of metal fragments imbedded in pads (these can end up scratching your rims) - signs that you need to replace them (not too costly). Cables should not be fraying, corroding, feel stiff to apply or sluggish on return – also signs the cables and cable housing need to be replaced. These small things can change the brake feel significantly and make you a hell of a lot safer hurtling downhill at 90k an hour!
Once again, gear cables should be replaced if fraying or shifting is haphazard. New cables and cable housing can make gear shifting a delight rather than a chore or a worry. Shift with confidence! Cables are not costly to replace in your service. If you’ve recently bought a new bike, your gear cables have likely bedded in/stretched a bit and your gears will need a quick tune up from your local mechanic. Additionally, if you’ve been putting in a lot of miles in prep for tour and your gears are crunching/slipping and lube is no longer helping, its time to get a new chain and cassette (potentially chainrings, but usually chain and cassette wear out quicker). Your bike mechanic can do a quick check for you and advise if this is necessary during a service. At the very least, your drivetrain will certainly benefit from a good ole degrease, re-lube and a tune-up.
Ensuring you have adequate gearing on your bike for consecutive days of climbing is important as all our tours involve mountainous terrain. While 'standard' gearing may be fine for smashing out a one-day hill-climb at home, riding consecutive days for 2 weeks in the mountains can take its toll on your body. Chainring set-up on road bikes can differ between models. Some are set up with a 53/39 chainring set-up. What you want for climbing hills is a lower gear ratio to enable you to 'spin' easier. This can be achieved by changing to a 50/34 chain-ring set-up and potentially a lower gear on your cassette (i.e a 28 tooth instead of a 25). Again, your local bike shop can help you out by ordering you these in and replacing them during a service.
Check them for wear, flat spots, balding and sidewalls giving out. If they haven’t been replaced in a while it would be a good idea to invest in a set that will improve your handling and confidence on the road.
Feeling any discomfort in the saddle? It might be worth upgrading your saddle to one that has been designed scientifically to reduce pressure around the sitbones and genital areas (most bikes are sold with a generic saddle, and as we know, our bums differ as much as our faces!). Some bike shops have test saddles you can try out. If you’re based in Melbourne, North City Cycles (NCC) have SMP test saddles (and other brands) available for loan to ensure the saddle you choose actually feels right after a week. Chamois cream might also be something to consider to reduce friction over long days in the saddle.
Pedals and cleats:
There are times when you’ll want to wander around a sleepy town whilst taking a break from the bike, and this can damage your cleats. WOR crew recommend mountain bike /recessed cleats and mtg pedal system for easy walking and being a 'tourist' when off the bike. Some tour riders take cleat covers that slip over the cleats to protect them when walking. Something to consider.
Make sure you have the correct sized spare tubes, either a mini pump or a gas canister dispenser (you can’t take your gas cylinders on aeroplanes but you can buy them when you land). WOR have track pumps in the support vehicle that can top you up to the required PSI pre, during and post ride, but you will need to be able to change a tube on the road in an emergency (the support wagon is not always going to be within 10 minutes of where you are). Your local bike shop staff are usually happy to give you a quick demo on how to change a tube if you need some tips. If your wheels have specific spokes that are bladed or unusual, it would be worth getting a couple of spare spokes and nipples (your shop may need to order them in so allow time). Some cyclists take a spare hanger for their rear derailleur as these can also be specific to your bike frame and hard to track down in small towns.
Have you ever been properly fitted? If you are experiencing any pain/niggles in the knees, back, neck, shoulders, hands, feet, or saddle soreness it might just require some tweaks such as seat height adjustment or cleat repositioning. It might be worth getting an experienced bike shop to look at your set-up or even lashing out and getting a professional bike fit (which may save you physio bills in the long run!). There are several reputable bike fitters that will do an in-depth bike fit. Ask around in your cycling groups to see if anyone knows a good fitter. NCC has partnered with Stewart Morton from Riderfit.com.au who is able to provide your bike fit from NCC. (Simon Gerrans uses Stewart’s services) . Call the shop to book in a time or visit riderfit.com.au to book online.
Bike bags and bike pack:
Check out our "Bring your Ride" page for info on packing and travelling with your bike.
WOR have bike stands and tools and can take care of most “mechanicals”. However, if your bike needs specific tools such as spoke keys, it would be worthwhile checking with your mechanic and getting these before you leave. Just in case! We do go through towns that have bike shops, but often they can be small and might not be able to supply you a specific part.
Any questions? Just get in touch and ask our mechanic: firstname.lastname@example.org