Getting into Gear for Will Bike 4 Food: The ABC Quick Check

The Food Bank of Western Mass
By Sean Condon of Speed & Sprocket

While Will Bike 4 Food on September 27 may seem far over the horizon, it will be here before we know it! Between now and then, I’ll be sharing some tips for improving your cycling skills to ensure that you’re confident and well prepared for the big day. The first tip I want to share with you is something that you should be doing each and every time you ride: the ABC Quick Check.

A = Air: While many people assume that flats are caused by nails or glass in the road, the truth is that many flats are caused by underinflated tires! Save yourself the misery of fixing a flat tire on the side of the road in the middle of a ride by simply making sure they are properly inflated before the ride. Make sure that both of your tires are inflated up to the recommended pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire. Tubes naturally lose air over time, even when they are brand new and in perfect condition. Use a floor pump (NOT a mini-pump) with a built in pressure gauge at least once a week, at a minimum. While you’re checking the pressure, look over the condition of your tires as well.

B = Brakes:  Make sure that both of your brakes are properly connected and working, especially if you’ve taken a wheel off for transportation. As you are checking your brakes, make sure that the pads are not rubbing against the tire or going into the spokes. This is especially important if you start your ride heading down a steep hill (speaking from personal experience).

C = Chain, Cranks, and Cassette (the gears in back): These components, otherwise known as your drivetrain, are what make your bike “go.” If you truly love your bike, you should be keeping these clean and properly lubricated. As you get ready and start your ride, make sure all these bits are turning freely and (mostly) quietly. If they’re not, or if your chain is skipping around while pedaling, you should consider bringing it into the shop for adjustments or even a full tune-up.

D = Quick Releases: Most newer bikes come with quick release levers on the wheels for easy removal. Make sure that the levers are tightened with the “closed” side of the skewer facing you. If you see the word “open,” you’ve put the skewer on the wrong way! There is nothing worse than your bicycle becoming a unicycle while you’re riding it because of improperly attached wheels.

Check = Check Over: While you’re doing all of the above, keep your eyes and ears open for loose parts on your bike. If you have any doubts, bring it to a trusted bike mechanic for them to inspect!

Feel free to shoot questions my way at In upcoming segments I’ll talk about suggestions on what to wear while riding, what you should be carrying on your bike with you, and what you should be eating. In the meantime, get out on your bike and ride, after performing your ABC Quick Check, of course!