It’s the middle of March, and the weather seems to be making a turn for the better (fingers crossed), that means one thing – riding outdoors. But before you jump on your bike, it’s time to think about what you need to do before heading out on your first ride of the season. Whether you let the experts deal with it at the bike shop or you’re a do-it-yourself person, here are a few tips to get your bike ready for the outdoors.

1) Wash your bike

Save the guys at the shop the hassle. If you’re like any other triathlete, chances are you’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into your training this past winter and you’ve left your bike caked in sweat. Try to make your bike presentable before you take it to the shop.

2) Buy your mechanic a beer

Your headset is caked in sweat and chances are you’ve done little to no maintenance on your chain. Not to mention, your last race was an Ironman, and you took more than a few pee breaks on the bike. What does this mean? A lot of grunt work for the guys at the shop.

Related: 15 thoughts when completing an Ironman

3) Check the chain for wear and replace it if needed

All those hours on the trainer are going to wear out your chain. Start the season fresh and replace your chain.

4) Check your brakes and cables

Sweat is a killer. As you grind away in the aero position, all that sweat is going down into your head tube, brakes and cables. Make sure all is in working order and replace your brakes if needed – it’s probably best you do.

5) Take your trainer tire off

While you may get away with an old road tire on the trainer, that won’t be the case on the road – unless you fancy slipping and sliding all over the place. Put on a new pair of tires for the road. Also, make sure your wheels are true and tighten any loose spokes. Canadian Cycling Magazine offers a few tips on how you can do this.

6) Check and recheck bolts

Even if you do take your bike to the shop, checking your bolts, braking and shifting is a good habit to get into when you get your bike back from the shop.

7) Check that your pedals and bottom bracket are rotating smoothly

A little resistance in the bottom bracket can make it that much harder to maintain your speed. Remove your chain and turn the crank to feel how the pedals and bottom bracket are rotating – resistance or lateral movement is a sign for some TLC. Removing the pedals and the bottom bracket to clean and lubricate them seasonally is also a good idea.

Related: Review: Garmin Vector 3 pedals

8) Check your cleats

After a tri season and hours on the trainer, it’s a good idea to rotate in a new pair of cleats for the outdoor season. Check for wear on the pads. Cleats can still work when they are worn out and loose, but this can lead to annoying creaks and the risk of injuries.

Now it’s time to pump up your tires, lube your chain and head out to the open roads.

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