Know Your Bike Shop
Richard Fries is the Director of Cycling Experience for the Best Buddies Challenges. With more than 40 years experience, he has been a racer, commuter, tourist, promoter, advocate, journalist and commentator on the sport and lifestyle of cycling. Having raced at the professional level both in America and Europe, Fries is well known as a race announcer having called countless USA Cycling National Championships, World Cups, and UCI World Championships. But he is also a tireless advocate having recently served as the executive director of MassBike. You can follow him on Strava to learn more.
Need a new bike?
It’s time to get ready for the Best Buddies Challenge. The first place to start is your local bike shop. I love bike shops! I love small ones and big ones, greasy ones and clean ones. I urge you to do some research and find a bike shop in your area and get to know it! You can also find a list of all of the bike shops that support Best Buddies here. Best Buddies has amazing partnerships with several bikes shops across the country, including Mike’s Bikes in California and Belmont Wheelworks in Massachusetts.
If you are in need of a new bike, the value and quality of bikes has never been better, which is great! Recent developments like disc brakes have redefined the range and capabilities of bikes. Modern bikes roll, shift and brake better than ever before.
Check Your ABC’s
Whether you are upgrading your existing rig, or sticking with your current one- general tune-ups are needed to keep your bike in working order. Focus on these three keys of maintenance before you start riding. I call them the A-B-C’s:
- AIR: Check your inflation and tires before you ride, every time. Tires left deflated over the winter should be closely examined.
- BRAKES: Make sure they are centered, have good brake shoes, pull and release with ease, and are not rubbing the rims or the discs.
- CHAIN: The front chain rings, also known as the drivetrain, the rear cogs or “cassette”, and the derailleur pulleys are the most commonly neglected and the most critical component of the bike. Too often bikes left outside or in sheds exposed to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, end up with a completely frozen drivetrain. A quick clean, degrease and lube will often salvage things.
Go to your local bike shop and say “Hi!”
The reason I prefer to go to my bike shop rather than purchase bike things online is because bike shops don’t just sell stuff! They provide advice, community, advocacy, and friendly service. Going to your shop and tell them you’re riding the Best Buddies Challenge and I guarantee will get you a lot of good guidance.
Bike shop employees are racers, commuters, mechanics, and advocates. Most of them live by bike and they have a long term interest in providing good advice to keep you coming back.
They also know where you can find group rides, clubs, and events in your community that can connect you to the wonderful lifestyle of cycling. I find that people who are into bicycles tend to be curious and courageous. Shop employees have loads of great stories to tell. Be courageous yourself and explore your local shop and ask them for some!