Smooth roads with fever cars, a 70-meter escarpment, rugged singletrack trails and endless gravel country roads make North Bay Ontario the gateway to epic cycling adventures. So get your ‘summer’ bikes out and follow these four easy steps to tune up your bike this Spring!
With temperatures rising, the days quickly growing longer and spring fever hitting hard, cyclists are itching to get riding. Before you hastily hit North Bay’s enviable trails network, take time to properly tune up your summer ride. Whether you’ve got a high-end road cycle or a lucky garage sale find, this is an important step to get you training for any of North Bay’s incredible line-up of cycling events or just simply to log some quality time on your bike all season long. The local bike shops are hopping these days so get your bike in early if you need repairs or simply want an expert eye on your prized possession. North Bay has a handful of excellent full-service bike shops to help: Cheapskates, Wheelhouse Bikes, CycleWorks, Sport Chek and new to the scene, Cycle Alley.
To get a quick overview of a DIY basic tune-up we asked Lance Belanger for a few pointers. Lance is one of the masterminds and lead volunteer mechanic for the local Discovery Routes’ ReCycle Bikes Program; a used bicycle donation program in North Bay. With hundreds of bikes tuned up through the program each year, he knows a thing or two about bike mechanics!
Step One: Clean Your Bike
If you’re a bit of a procrastinator and didn’t manage to give your bike a thorough cleaning before the weather turned, now is the time. Lance recommends using car wash soap, a brush with nylon bristles and a spray bottle or hose. Once the bike is clean, you’ll be able to see any wear and tear.
Step Two: ABC Visual Inspection
Using a bike stand is ideal for a thorough inspection of your bike, but a simple alternative is to prop your bike upside down so you can spin the pedals and run through the gears.
A is for Air. All bike tires lose air pressure over time. A quality air pump with a gauge works best and stick to the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. While you’re at it, check the tire’s tread for wear or cracks that would indicate a weak spot. If you notice any, it may be time for new tires.
B is for Brakes. Roll your bike forward pulling on one brake lever at a time. If it stops the tire you’re golden. Make sure the brake engages evenly and consistently on both sides of the wheel. If not, expert advice may be needed.
C is for Chain. Check the tension by pressing your fingers against the top chain, it shouldn’t move more than a half inch. To lube the chain, Lance recommends using a dry Teflon-based lubricant. Avoid using WD-40 as it will attract dirt and trail gunk – something you don’t want on your chain. Put a few drops of lube onto the chain and run through the gears to make sure it gets to every link in the chain.
Now check for loose or worn parts. Check the handlebars and seat. With problems like clicking gears, loose handlebars or misaligned wheels, you might be better off taking your bike to a mechanic if you’re unsure of how to fix the problem.
Step Three: Safety
Front and rear lights, reflectors, bell – make sure they are all in good condition. Check the expiry date on your helmet. If you’ve had the same helmet for a few years it may need an udpate.
Step Four: Hit the Trail
Now that you are ride-ready, get out on some of the best cycling trails in all of Ontario. Discovery Routes, a local trail and cycling advocacy organization has carefully curated a number of self-guided cycling itineraries in and around North Bay to help riders experience all the city has to offer.
For an engaging trail ride, check out Spirit of the Bay connecting cyclists to North Bay’s vibrant arts scene. Take a ride back in time along the paved and gravel roads that make up the Red Toque Tour. Grind and flow in the tire tracks of Olympic mountain biker, Emily Batty along North Bay’s favourite singletrack mountain bike trails. Engage with local farmers and fill your panniers with local produce, maple syrup and tasty treats on the Farmstand 40. Prefer to compete for bragging rights? Check out the growing list of bike races using North Bay’s awesome trails and roadways.
North Bay’s cycling experiences are the perfect blend of adventure and wilderness coupled with urban comforts and unique Northern culture. So, if you are inspired to hit the trails in North Bay now next step is finding the perfect accommodation option for you.