Spring into Earth Month with a good cleaning

It’s getting sunny and I’m getting antsy to put some miles under my bike tires. This winter hasn’t been the most productive or pleasant for bike commuting, and I’m a little embarrassed to report I had a personal low and logged the fewest miles ever.

Cyclists along the East Lake Sammamish Trail
Cyclists along the East Lake Sammamish Trail

But spring is here! Earth Day is April 22, and we here at King County Parks celebrate throughout April with #EarthMonth. What better time to dust off my trusty steel steed and hit the road? But after the long winter break and before I climb in the saddle, there’s a few things on my checklist to stay safe:

  • Check my tires. I’ll check out the sidewalls, tread, and tire pressure. I make sure my tires are road worthy and safe. Nothing like fixing a leak on that first ride!
  • Check my brakes and make sure my brake pads are not worn, remove all slack by either using the quick adjust screws, or reset the cable and pull out the slack.
  • Examine the chain. Is it rusted, bent, covered in grease? I try to keep it clean, and lightly oiled, and I’ll replace if it is bent or worn.
  • Spin my wheels. Are they bent? Do they wobble? Any loose spokes? If so, I don’t attempt to true my wheels myself, better to take them to be inspected at my local bike shop.
  • Inspect the gears and derailleurs. Looking for worn teeth, junked up wheels on the derailleurs, and making sure everything turns and shifts smoothly.
  • Clean and lubricate my bike. I give everything a good wipe down and make sure that all cables are well-oiled and clean.

These simple steps will make it so I can ride with confidence. If I’m feeling particularly tight on time, I’ll drop my bike off for a tune-up at my local bike shop and know that I can pick it up and have everything ready to go.

This is also a great time to review trail etiquette and safety rules for a friendly ride. What better way to reduce my footprint this spring for Earth Month than to ditch the car and commute by bike?

Even if you don’t commute, just getting some exercise and enjoying our wonderful surroundings increases your appreciation for Your Big Backyard and this wonderful blue ball floating in the infinite space that we call home.

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