Updated: Aug 24
Some of you know, and some of you don’t, but one of the other ways I like to enjoy the outdoors and combine that with traveling, is SCUBA diving. It took me quite a few years to become proficient at it, primarily because there really aren’t that many places to practice in Colorado, and secondarily because I had some obstacles I had to overcome before I became completely confident under water. Nowadays, I have even gone so far to purchase my own gear, because I knew that my experience would be just that much better and safer if I did.
In SCUBA, we refer to our equipment as “Life Support Equipment”. And we treat it that way. Intense attention to detail is constantly given to maintain the gear, especially when it comes to the O-rings and regulators. After all, in a deep-water environment, all it takes is one seemingly innocent part failure to be a matter of life and death for the user, and potentially other divers, as well.
In some ways, bicycles are similar- we take them out and challenge ourselves with high speeds, rocky technical sections, big drops, and random road debris. In a way, they are also life support equipment, but since that really doesn’t match up quite as well as it does with SCUBA, I came up with a better term: Fun Support Equipment.
Bicycles are your Safe Fun Support Equipment!
And we need to treat them this way.
I can’t think of many bike veterans that haven’t had at least some type of crash during the course of their biking career. Some crashes are mild, while others are more like a perfect storm of factors, terrain, bike parts failing, or random road hazards. And the truth is that you simply can’t prevent all accidents, no matter how much attention you give to your equipment, because accidents are a part of pushing our limits and getting better. But we sure can reduce the chances, at least somewhat, by taking better care of our bikes!
For road bikes, the condition of your tires should be inspected before each ride, as well as adjusting the tire pressure. Road tires often lose some pressure between rides because they require a lot of pressure in the first place. Check your brakes and shifters by giving them the once over. Road bikes don’t take as much of a beating as mountain bikes, but the higher speeds we reach on the road make it just as important to maintain them.
In mountain biking, the most often neglected part is often the suspension. When purchasing your bike, you should spend some time dialing in the pressure and rebound to make sure that it matches your body weight, riding style, and what types of trails you’ll be riding. If your rebound is not adjusted correctly, your bike will bounce you around, and potentially off altogether, on technical sections. That’s the last place that you want your suspension to not be working correctly for you! We ride bikes with suspension because they make technical terrain more navigable and enjoyable and taking the time to care for these parts ensures that experience. It is also imperative that you check the pressure of your fork and rear shock before each ride, and no less than once a week, especially if you've been hitting terrain with bigger features lately.
Safety, and feeling safe, is one of the most basic of all human needs. Taking the time to care for and understand your equipment can add to your feelings of safety and confidence on your bicycle. I’ve never heard of anyone saying that they regret taking better care of their bike, and something tells me that it can do nothing but make your experience more enjoyable.
Talitha Vogt is a certified endurance and wellness coach with an elite racing background. She has 22 years of experience as a mountain biker, including 12 total years of racing and other events. Leveraging her wellness coaching experience, she provides custom-tailored training plans and accommodating coaching for women locally in the front range of Colorado and online for anywhere else in the world.