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Today's safety tip

Even though this is my fourth year in ALC, this is also my first year riding a fully "proper" road bike. As a result, I might make some of the very same silly novice-type mistakes that you do. And I caught a whopper today.

In recent rides, I had noticed that my braking wasn't as strong as it had been. Especially going down hills, I had to really squeeze the brake levers to keep myself at a speed I'm comfortable with. Well ...

Before today's ride, I went to inflate my rear tire and managed to snap off the valve cap, which gave me a flat. I decided to take the opportunity to install a new tire that I'd bought a couple of weeks ago. But when I went to remove the current tire, I noticed that the brake release lever was already in the "release" position! This meant that the rear brake pads were farther from the wheel than they were supposed to be, which of course was responsible for my diminished braking capacity. The top photo shows the release position; the bottom photo shows the correct position for riding.

Another thing to check before a ride. Speaking of that, this is a good time to point out the "ABC-Quick-Check" that you should do before every ride. You can find many versions of it all over the web; here's a version from the University of Louisville:
  1. A is for air

    • Inflate tires to rated pressure as listed on the sidewall of the tire.
    • Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure.
    • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace if damaged.

  2. B is for brakes

    • Inspect pads for wear; replace is there is less than ¼" of pad left.
    • Check pad adjustment; make sure they do not rub tire or dive into spokes.
    • Check brake level travel; at least 1" between bar and lever when applied.

  3. C is for cranks, chain and cassette

    • Make sure that your crank bolts are tight; lube the threads only, nothing else.
    • Check your chain for wear; 12 links should measure no more than 12 1/8 inches.
    • If your chain skips on your cassette, you might need a new one or just an adjustment.

  4. Quick is for quick releases

    • Hubs need to be tight in the frame; your quick release should engage at 90°.
    • Your hub quick release should point back to insure that nothing catches on it.
    • Inspect brake quick releases to insure that they have been re-engaged.

  5. Check is for check it over

    • Take a quick ride to check if derailleurs and brakes are working properly.
    • Inspect the bike for loose or broken parts; tighten, replace or fix them.
    • Pay extra attention to your bike during the first few miles of the ride.

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