Friday, June 29, 2012

Bike Maintenance 101

This weekend is something I have been looking forward to dreading for a while. With assistance from an incredible group of people from I AM TRI, I will be able to ride the bike route for Ironman Louisville.  When contemplating doing an Ironman, I knew I did not want to sign up for IM-Wisconsin which is known for its tough hills. I was not looking for hills. I was looking for a nice flat course. So I signed up for Louisville.


A dirty Dolce
The Louisville bike course has a total ascent of 2198 ft. Yah, good idea. "No hills". I guess that was back in the days of my naivety. 

As I've learned more about myself, I put my best foot forward when I have a clear understanding of what I'm facing and I have my mental game 100% turned on. So when  I AM TRI  posted several opportunities to come down to Louisville and experience the courses first hand, I knew I had to do it. 

In order to have a great weekend of riding, I wanted to make sure my Dolce was in the best possible shape. I've chosen to stay with a road bike instead of investing in a tri bike. So I've tried to make sure adjustments which will allow me to have a comfortable ride without sacrificing too much speed.
Dirty, grime and goop With temperatures expected to climb to 103 on Saturday, I wanted to get an Aero Bottle installed on the front of my bike. I spent the morning at Little Ade's in Pekin where I learned a little bit about bike maintenance.

Apparently, I am a bad bike owner because I haven't been properly taking care of my baby. I'm surprised I didn't get shamed out of the shop bringing my Dolce in looking like this. My chain was covered in red dirt. The frame covered in muck and goop. Slowly, I was introduced to the joys of cleaning a bike chain, joint and chain lub and walked out of the shop with an armful of products.

Abby cleaning the Dolce.
My little princess, Abby, came out to help me with the bike cleaning. She helped me wash and dry the frame, joints and chain. Of course, on a day where the temperature exceeded 90, she was more than happy to come out and play in the hose for a while. On the other hand, I think she's been rather bored for the last few days and having a little project probably captured her active little mind.

All cleaned up and ready to ride!

We finally got the Dolce all cleaned up. She looked all bright and shiny,  ready for some lub. This is the part where I started to feel a little nervous. What if I lubbed something which didn't require it? Using a wax based lub for the chain, I about broke my back squirting, turning peddles, wiping the excess lub off and lubing some more. I think I burned quite a few  calories just cleaning up the bike. The staff at Little Ade's explained when lubbing plan on spending 10% of your time putting on the lube and 90% of the time wiping off the excess.

Look at that shine!
Unfortunately, I had to take a drive into Peoria to visit a second bike shop to see about the Aero Bottle for my Dolce. With the clip on bars, I wanted to make sure I was getting the correct bottle for my specific needs. Luck be a lady tonight! I found the right system (in stock) for my bike; however, reading a black and white instruction sheet with 2x2 pictures explaining the details of the installation is where my patience came to an end. I decided it was time to wait for my road crew to come home from work and with assistance from a YouTube video, the bottle and bracket was installed with ease.
I was a little worried about cutting the straw on my aero bottle however.  I decided to take it for a spin with the extra long tubing just to make sure the bottle wouldn't fall off before cutting the tube. Some reviews of the Profile Design Aero bottle did mention issues with splashing, but the YouTube video made it sound as if the splashing would be minimal, if any.  Now call me crazy, but that aero bottle made a mess even with the yellow mesh properly (?? maybe ??) installed. My hands were sticky as they gripped the aero bars. My legs were dripping in a red stream from my knee down to my shoes. I'm not sure if there is anything I can do to make an adjustment and reduce the splash. The roads around the county can be bumpy, but I'm not sure I will find smoother roads to train on any time soon.
My other concern is finding the correct motion to dump a bottle of fluid into the aero bottle without dumping half of it down me and my Dolce. 
I guess I'll have to wait until the weekend to talk to the real Ironman experts to see if they have any advice for me. Maybe there is some secret devise to enable me to have fluids available at the ready without turning into a sticky bun!

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