It’s Friday night. The weather tomorrow is going to be perfect and Glacier National Park has opened up another section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road for hikers and bikers. You have your water bottle, your fancy techwear jacket, your windbreaker pants and 3,000 calories worth of energy bars. You’re ready. Except, where’s the bike? Oh yeah, it’s been sitting in the garage since last fall. You should probably dig that out.
And that would be your first mistake, says Mike Meador, a mechanic at Glacier Cycle & Nordic in Whitefish. To get you ready for the first ride of the year, we asked Mike to give us some tips.
Get Your Bike Out Early. Don’t wait until the night before, Mike says, because you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. A week or two before you plan on taking that first ride, get your bike out and go for a ride around the neighborhood.
Check Your Air. Before you hit the road, check the air in your tires and make sure they’re properly inflated. While you’re at it, if you have a mountain bike, check the air in the suspension fork and rear shock. You can do that by simply sitting on the bike and noting if it’s lower than normal. If it is, get a shock pump or take it to a local bike shop.
Check Bolts and Brakes. “For most people around here, their first ride of the season is the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and you’re going to want good brakes for the ride down,” Mike says. To check them, ride around the driveway and try to stop. If they don’t stop you immediately, get that checked out.
And Speaking Of That … If you need new brakes or just want a tune-up, take the bike to Glacier Cycle & Nordic in Whitefish or one of the other bike shops around the valley. Mike says the cost of a full tuneup depends on the bike and its needs, but they can range from $50 to $250. He recommends getting the bike in early, though, because once the sunny days of April and May hit, local bike shops are busy and it can take upwards of a week to get a tuneup done.