They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Whoever 'they' are in this case makes a good point. A little pre-planning before heading out for a ride can mean the difference between a great circuit and a miserable hell-ride punctuated with tears and bitter disappointment. Not to overstate things. Here are the five simple things you really should do before you get in the saddle for a longer ride. Especially if you'll be out in the country where the riding is nice but the help maybe scarce.
1. Check your tire pressure
Low tire pressure has a measurable impact on your bike's rolling resistance. If you're doing repeats or trying to take a Strava KOM, every big counts. Tire pressure has real safety implications too; your tire's manufacturer stamps a minimum and maximum tire pressure on the sidewall for a reason. Too low and you increase your risk a pinch or puncture. Too high and you up your risk for a catastrophic tire failure. Kaboom.
Tip: The pressure levels listed on your tire sidewall are cold readings. i.e. take the pressure before you ride anywhere.
2. Clean your biddons (water bottles to the rest of us)
The scene: You just killed a hill. At the crest, before you come screaming down the other side, you reach for your biddon. You squeeze to slake your thirst and instead of a cool, clear water you get swamp gas and instant regret. You, my friend, really should have cleaned out that nasty water bottle before you hit the trail.
Tip: There are specialty biddon cleaning kits. Denture tablets in the bottle and a baby bottle brush for the valve work just as well if you want to save a few bucks.
3. Check the forecast
It's obvious but it bears discussing. Check the weather before you commit to a day outdoors. If your planned route has you riding into a headwind all day, you'll at least want to know about it. Don't just trust in your phone's default weather app. Weather Underground is a much better option. It crowdsources info from private weather stations dotted all around the country.
4. Check the road conditions
You don't need to go any further than Google Maps to get a look at what your planned route has in store. Cycling directions, while still in beta like so many Google products, does a good job of aggregating construction data and will often route you around it. It's not perfect and it can be difficult to know exactly what the road has in store. Plan possible alternate routes so an issue on the road doesn't end your ride.
5. Filling stations
In planning a longer route, plan your rest stops too. Look for places you can stop to refuel in comfort so you're not stuck sitting in front of some backroute gas station drinking long expired Gatorade and choking down desiccated meat products for want of any other option. You deserve better than that. Do you agree with our list of five things you should do before you hit the road on your bike? Do you disagree? Got a killer pre-ride tip to share? Let us know in the comments below.