Random Tips for the Cyclist

This collection of tips came as a result of a tweet that I sent recommending using cycling equipment in a non-cycling way.  A couple of folks asked me to throw together a list of tips.

While there are 101 different tips lists for cycling – training tips, racing tips, whole lists of tire changing tips – I decided on a slightly different focus.  All of the tips on this list are cycling related but not specific to any particular cycling endeavor.  That is why I’ve called them “Random Tips for the Cyclist” instead of, say “Cycling Tips” or “Racing Tips.”

See and be seen

If you ever find yourself caught without a flashlight but needing one – say, when camping, or in your house during a power outage – the headlight of your bike will make a damn fine flashlight in a pinch.  Just unclip if from your bars and carry it around with you illuminating what you need, when you need.

Paper, or plastic?

Need to pick up a couple of items at the grocery store on your way home, but don’t have a backpack or panniers to carry them in?  No worries.  First, choose a plastic bag instead of paper (although some areas are starting to outlaw these!)  After your bag is full, ask them for two extra plastic bags.  These extra plastic bags can be tied together and form a strap that you can then tie directly to the handles of the bag with your groceries.  Tie them nice and tight, and you’ve basically crafted a temporary messenger bag for yourself that you can throw over your head and allow your groceries to hang on your back.

Is it hot in here?

Unless you are someone that likes to do the wrenching on your own bike, it is better to store your bike outside, but protected from the elements – than inside.  A shed, garage, or even locked to a fire escape – somewhere protected from the rain and moisture – are all great options. When you store your bike indoors, you are storing it at indoor temperatures.  Then, when you take it outside you are moving it to an environment that could potentially be significantly colder in the winter, or hotter in the summer.  While not particularly harmful to the materials used to make your bike, it can cause the different parts to expand or contract at different rates – as all things do when they heat and cool.  This will ultimately result in your fasteners (nuts and bolts) loosening up faster than normal.  If you like to take your bike in to the shop for a tuneup once or twice a year and that’s it, you can find your self with critical equipment failures if your bike goes through frequent hot/cold transitions.

Machine Wash Separately

Don’t wash your cycling gloves – or anything else with velcro – along with your jerseys, shorts and bibs.  Those little hooks are terrible when rubbed up against the sometimes delicate lycra, resulting in snags, pulls and wear.  Throw the gloves in with a load of denim jeans where they can do no harm.  While you’re at it – turn your jerseys and shorts inside out when you wash them.  Let’s face it – it is the inside that really needs to be clean to prevent bacteria and other saddle-sore-inducing badness.

Too much junk in the trunk

Bike panniers can often have very tight clearance with your heel as you are pedaling – especially if they’ve been fitted to a non-touring specific frame.  If you have a rear rack with two bars – one above the other – you can sometimes get away with dropping the front hook of the bag down to the lower railing.  This will result in the bag rotating and providing slightly more heel clearance.  If you have the means, you may be able to permanently modify your panniers to accomplish the same goal.

That’s all for now.  I’ll keep adding them to the site as people pass them on to me.  Until then, the final tip:  Keep your helmet above your saddle above the tires.  Cheers!