Riding off-road by Drew Jones

If we are going off road riding we will not be within easy reach of a club house. So here’s a list of things you need to have:

  1. A reliable bike. Coaches will try to help with any bike problems where time allows but are not trained bike mechanics and are not qualified to perform maintenance on your bike.
  2. A lightweight waterproof
  3. Drinks bottles; I always put water in mine and carry it on a bottle-cage on the bike
  4. A pair of gloves, I always wear mine.
  5. A small snack, I nearly always carry a banana, or orange. Some choose to take a chocolate bar.
  6. A small rucksack or bumbag to put the waterproof and snack in.
  7. An optional, but useful extra, is a pair of cycling glasses or sun glasses; these keep mud out of eyes.

Remember it’s best to wear a number of light layers of clothing instead of one thick layer. Try to wear a layer that will wick sweat away from the skin (i.e man-made sports fibres or merino wool but not cotton).

We tend to get rather muddy on the rides, especially in the winter, so it’s probably best not to ride in one’s best clothes. A change of dry clean clothes for use after the ride will be needed as winter progresses and our mud hunts get more successful.

It is also a good idea to check bikes on Friday nights! Here’s is a check list:

  1. Ensure chain and gear mechanisms are oiled.
  2. Check brakes work and do not bind and that cables are in good condition.
  3. Every few weeks it is worth oiling the gear and brake cables, by removing or sliding along the outer cable and lightly smearing some oil along the inner.
  4. Check tyres for wear
  5. Check chain for wear.
  6. Clean bikes after muddy rides

If you are unsure of how to do any of the above ask any of the helpers in the club shed or even the coaches or helpers.

If the chain keeps coming off or gears slip, it usually means something is worn out. Again if you are not sure what to do, ask and someone will try to help. We probably won’t be able to fix it, but we can normally advice on what is needed.

Coaches will normally carry a small multi-tool on rides, a pump and a few inner tubes as well as a first aid kit. If a bike breaks down we will try to repair it on the ride, but this is not always possible.

If you are a parent/guardian and thinking of small presents with a cycling theme for Christmas or Birthdays that will be useful, then here’s a list:

  • Mini pump
  • Light multi tool
  • Set of tyre levers.
  • Wind and rain proof gloves.
  • Some Lee Valley Cycle tops or shorts.