Spoke Talk: Theme for season opener is be prepared
The theme for the Spoke Talk season opener is to be prepared. John Degenkolb just won the 2015 Paris Roubaix. This race, known as the “queen” of the classics, takes stamina, technical skills and the ability to overcome weather and terrain diversity. John and his Giant–Alpecin team didn’t just decide to race Paris Roubaix the night before; they spent time preparing. That resulted in a place in history.
Locally, our cycling aspirations are probably more humble. Maybe it’s to seize a fair-weather window and go out for a road spin. Perhaps it’s to sneak out on a dry trail, as it’s clear we’ve had a pretty mild winter. A quick loop on a ranch road or two is certainly a springtime favorite. Regardless of your steed or your goals, a bit of preparation is essential.
If headed out for a road ride, perform a basic bike check. Brakes, drivetrain and wheels should be in good working order. Are the brakes solid; are the pads within manufacturing wear limits? Is the bike’s drivetrain clean and shifting well? It takes just a few minutes to clean and lube your drivetrain, and it makes a world of difference in how your bike shifts and performs. Citrus-based solvents work really well. How about a check on those tires? Take a spare tire and a couple of tubes. With extra debris in the road, some argue a fresh set of “shoes” on your ride is worth every penny.
Fat tires in the dirt? Whoa … check those trail conditions. Even with our mild winter, it’s unlikely many trails are open. Help be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Follow International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Rules of the Trail: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When you encounter mud or snow, turn around. Local trails not dry? Hi Fruita! Tune in to Routt County Riders’ trail report on its website at routtcountyriders.org or Facebook page at facebook.com/rcriders for trail condition updates as they become available.
Any experienced backcountry explorer can recite the 10 essentials. You may not need a map or a compass, but living at elevation, we see dynamic weather. Snow in June? No doubt. Take some food, extra water, gloves and a shell, bare minimum. If you have a lightweight puff jacket, cram it in a jersey pocket. A mechanical, in the open, with the wind blowing can be a less-than-pleasant experience.
Say hello to moose and squirrel. In the spring, you could encounter wildlife. Be aware. Be respectful. Your response to an angry grouse is very different than coming face to face with a bull elk. Slow down and assess the situation. Unsure what to do? Back away, and give yourself a safe distance from the animal. Stay calm, stay alert.
A few minutes of preparation can make the difference between a fun, fantastic ride and a miserable experience. If you need suggestions, Routt County Riders is willing to help. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alan Perkins is a Routt County Riders board member and volunteer.
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While warm days and nights are fueling strong flows in the Yampa River through Steamboat Springs, the pace of runoff is expected to dip this week.