Cyclists ride a series of mountain bike trails near Summerland. With the warm spring temperatures

Preparing to bike your way into May

Biking season is officially underway, but be sure to take the proper precautions and get your bike prepped for the roads and trails.

Biking season is officially underway, but be sure to take the proper precautions and get your bike prepped for the roads and trails.    Bike Barn co-owner, Lisa Prowse, sets us straight on the path of safe biking.

Top tips

o Tire Pressure – Lisa Prowse explains, “First thing is to check your tire pressure.  Many flat tires happen because people ride their bikes with pressure too low.”

o Oil the Chain – “If chain is squeaky, or looks rusty or dry- use a little bit of bike specific lubricant (not house hold oil or WD40).  Bike lubes are much thinner, and usually have Teflon in them whereas household oils are too thick, and WD40 dries into goo.”

o Brake Check – “It is really important to check brakes at beginning of season.  When a bike sits for a while, the cable and housing can gum up.  Moving parts of a bike are like your body – if don’t use them – they get stiff.  If brakes are difficult to engage for a small hand – bring it in to a shop.  You may need to lubricate and replace housing and cables.”

o Helmets – “Helmets should be checked and replaced every three to five years.  Depending on exposure to sun, if it’s been dropped on hard floor or been in a crash, if there are visible cracks or dents, it needs to be replaced.  Helmet technology has come a long away over the past years to prevent concussions and neck injuries.”

o Bike Size – “Check the size of your child’s bike each year.  When sitting on their seat, if they are flat footed, their seat is too low.  It will be uncomfortable to ride and can affect their knees.  Kids should be able to touch the ground with their tippy toes.  You can extend the stem but not over the max line (serrated marker on the seat) or it’s time for a new bike.”

o Spring Tune-Up – Bring the bike into a bike shop for a Spring tune-up.  Bike Barn offers free and quick safety checks.

Safety first

Simple technical pointers from Lisa Prowse:

o “Most important tip is to look ahead.  Keep eyes up and chin up.  It is better for balance but not easy to do when on a trail.  Most kids will look down.  Look where you want to go.  Don’t focus on the obstacles you want to avoid…Much like life.”

o “Learn how to utilize your gears. Many people push way to heavy of a gear.  Experienced cyclists have a way higher cadence, spinning faster versus pedalling slower which is harder on the knees and not as efficient for your body. Mountain bikes have beautiful low gears now.”

o “If you are going to ride a lot, treat yourself to a nice bike, it makes a big difference.”

o “If there’s something that’s not working well on your bike, and you don’t know what’s going on, bring it in.   We get a lot of business from people trying to do it by themselves.”

Group rides

There are several group rides for the beginner, families to the more advanced rider.  All group rides are free, but you will need to join PACA (Penticton and Area Cycling Association) for a Club Membership ($10 for kids, $25 for Adults).   If you don’t have an appropriate bike, Bike Barn will set you up with a demo bike for the ride (arrange in advance).

o Family Ride: Starting in mid-May.  Predetermined location or meet at Bike Barn Thursdays at 5:45 p.m.  for riders seven and older (parents must accompany). Easy hour mountain bike ride for families new to the sport.

o Welcome Ride: Starting mid-May.  Wednesdays at 5:45 p.m.  For adults (junior riders welcome).  1.5 hours intermediate mountain bike ride (beginners welcome).

o She Rides.  Louis Blais leads group ride for the woman road rider.  5:45 p.m. Monday nights.  Designed specifically for women who are new to the sport.  Easy-going 1 hour rides.

Cycling events:

o May 21 Giant’s Head Grind — new this year optional bike race.   www.giantsheadgrind.ca

o Month of May — Chain of Events: Exclusive biking events in Summerland, Penticton and Naramata. www.okchainofevents.com

o May 30 to June 5 — Bike to Work Week in Summerland www.biketowork.ca/Summerland

o June 4 — Man of Steel Triathlon, Summerland.  Bike one loop (10km) or three loops (30km) of Giant’s Head Mountain for the bike portion of the triathlon — put a team together! www.runningroom.com.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.