How to perform a pre-ride safety check

How to perform a pre-ride safety check

At some point, whether it’s during your training or the event itself you’re likely to experience a flat tire or small mechanical problem while you’re out riding. In the next two articles I’m going to go over how to perform a proper bike safety check before each of your rides and then I’ll take you through the essential tools that I think should be carried with you on every ride.

In the first article let’s focus on how to perform a pre-ride safety check. Taking between 2-5 minutes before a ride to make sure that everything is in good working order can help you identify potential problems that might occur during a ride and it’s often easier to fix issues at home then mid-ride on the side of the road.

A common method used for pre-ride bike checks is the ‘M’ safety check. This method gets its name from the pattern you follow when checking the bike (see picture below). The “M” check starts at the front wheel, moves up to the handlebars, then down to the crankset, up to the saddle and then back down to the rear wheel.

Checklist

Wheels

Start by checking that the quick release skewer is firmly closed or that the thru axle is fully tightened. Next visually inspect your tires for wear, looking for splits or cracks in the rubber and check that there is still tread remaining on the tire. After that you should check that the tire is inflated to the recommended pressure on the tire wall.

Lastly you want to give the spokes a little squeeze to check that none of them are loose. You can grab the wheel with your hands and try to shake it left and right, there should be no movement from the hub. The final thing to do is spin the wheel and visually inspect that the wheel is spinning freely, that there is little to no movement side to side and that the wheel is round.

Brakes

Check you can comfortably reach the levers. Apply the front brake and push the bike forward, the back wheel should lift off the ground. Then apply the rear brake and move the bike backwards, the front wheel should want to lift off the ground. Next you want to check that the brake blocks or pads are correctly positioned and not worn beyond the wear indicators. For disc brakes you will also want to check that the brake rotors aren’t damaged or bent. Finally you can have a look that your brake cables are not frayed or heavily corroded.

Handlebars and headset

You can hold the front tire between your knees and then visually inspect that the handlebar stem is correctly aligned with the front wheel and that there is no movement in the stem when you move the handlebars side to side. Finally you can apply the brakes and rock the bike back and forth, feeling for loose headset bearings. If you don’t feel any movement from that the last thing to do is check that your handlebars move freely from side to side.

Water bottle holders

Check that your water bottle holders are not loose. If they feel loose you can tighten them up before leaving.

Crankset and pedals

Take the non-drive side crank arms in your hand and try to move it in and out. If there is no movement the bearings are in condition. After this check that your pedals are secure and spin freely on the crank arm. You may also want to check that your cleats are not worn past the wear indicator.

Saddle

You should check that your saddle is secured correctly and does not move when you give it a little jiggle in different directions. Next, check that your seat post is tightened to the manufacturer’s torque specifications.

Drivetrain and gears

Start by inspecting the chain, you can look for rust or whether the chain needs to be lubricated, if you have a chain tool you can use this to assess the condition of your chain. Next give the crank arm a spin while you shift the front derailleur from the small to big ring and back. Then shift the rear derailleur up and down the cassette, you want to look for quick precise shifting and you don’t want to hear any rubbing of the chain on the front derailleur or the rear derailleur on the spokes. Finally, you can look at the teeth on your chainset and cassette to make sure none are damaged or missing.

That’s how you perform a basic ‘M’ check. I’ll be back in a couple weeks to talk about saddlebags and what essential items you should carry with you on every ride.

Training Plan

See below for more details about Easy Day and Hard Day routines.

WEEK 9

Monday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise

Tuesday - Easy day

  • 60 min continuous easy exercise

Wednesday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training
  • Session 2: Hill repeats 3-4 sets of 10 x 60 sec, rest 30 sec between efforts.

Thursday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Friday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise

Saturday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training
  • Session 2: Hill repeats 3-4 sets of 10 x 60 sec, rest 30 sec between efforts

Sunday - Long day

  • 180 - 210 min continuous moderate exercise.

WEEK 10

Monday - Rest day

  • Complete rest or make an easy 20-60 min walk

Tuesday - Easy day

  • 60 min continuous easy exercise

Wednesday - Easy day

  • 90-200 min continuous moderate exercise

Thursday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training
  • Session 2: Hill repeats 3-4 sets of 10 x 60 sec, rest 30 sec between efforts

Friday - Easy day

  • 60 min continuous easy exercise

Saturday - Easy day

  • 180 - 210 min continuous moderate exercise.

Sunday - Hard day

  • Session 1: 20-30 min strength training
  • Session 2: Hill repeats 3-4 sets of 10 x 60 sec, rest 30 sec between efforts

The Training Sessions

Easy (marked with green color)

During these easy sessions try to maintain an average cadence of 90-110 rpm throughout the session. If a session is over 2 hours in duration add between 4-6 max cadence sprints that last between 10-30 seconds during the last hour.

These rides are calm, they feel easy (2-3 out of 10 RPE) , breathing should be comfortable and you should be able to speak in full sentences. 60-70% of HRmax which should be low to middle of your zone 2 power.

Long (marked with green color)

During these long sessions you should try to maintain an average cadence greater than 90rpm throughout the session. Typical durations for long sessions range between 1-6 hours. It’s important to start a bit easier because as you extend the duration past a certain point fatigue will start to set in and heart rate and perceived exertion (RPE) will gradually rise. With long rides you’re looking to reach that point where the easy ride starts to feel somewhat hard. I don’t recommend using power for this type of training.

Hard - Interval Training (marked with orange color)

For this second base phase we focus on climbing. The main goal for these sessions is to accumulate a total of 30-40 minutes of climbing efforts. I have designed a workout for you that could be done on a hill that takes you about 1 min to climb. You would do 3-4 sets of 10X1 min. Your rest would be taken as you coast to the bottom of the hill. Take 10 min rest between sets. If you have longer hills in your area then you can adjust the session to suit your hill. Keep the cadence between 85-100 rpm during the pulls and greater than 90 rpm during the rest periods.

The way I like to prescribe these efforts is to keep the highest intensity you can maintain for the entire session. I would estimate this to be around 70-80% of HRmax or an effort that feels like 5-6 out of 10. This kind of effort will bring on heavy breathing, only able to respond in short responses but after the effort you should feel okay and that you could make another one. So these are not maximum efforts. This ride could also be replaced with a group ride.

Hard Days - Strength Training (marked with orange color)

Core and body conditioning will make you a more robust rider and strength training has been used to increase both short and long duration endurance capacity. If you’re new to strength training give this session a try or use a routine that you're familiar with and enjoy doing.

Warm Up - Dynamic Stretching 6 exercises 1 set 8 reps

1. Prisoner Stand Ups
2. Down Dog with Toe Touch
3. Cat-Camels
4. Kneeling thoracic rotations
5. Down Dog to Runner's Lunge
6. Glute Raises-Fire Hydrants

Block A - Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 sets 6-10 reps (each side)

1. DB Romanian Deadlift
2. Sumo Squat
3. Calf Raises

Block B - Strength Training: 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side)

1. Glute Bridge Floor Press
2. DB Good mornings
3. Lat pull with band or DB

Block C - Core Training 3 exercises 2 set 6-10 reps (each side)

1. Front Plank
2. Copenhagans
3. Superman core

All the movements for this strength training session can be found here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkkzmpRneOpTAnC8x7_-xNaRePO6sg5lu