Mud, it gets everywhere. No matter how careful you are, the inside of the car and the path to the washing machine is one littered with bits of mud and the occasional twig or leaf that has been dragged in from the outdoors.
Winter poses the biggest challenge to mountain bikers. I’ve just returned from a couple of days of bike and kit testing in the Peak District, and the fallout from all the riding and travelling has taken its toll on my patience. I don’t dislike cleaning and the necessary maintenance of bikes, but it’s just that at this time of year it can’t be ignored, has to be done and mostly takes so long.
If you’re going to be determined to ride during the winter, cleaning has to become second nature, part of the ritual of preparing for a ride. The ride isn’t over when you get home, this is when the big clean-up begins. And it’s times like this that I often find myself questioning why I’m so keen on riding through the winter (I’m sure I’m not alone here), when the trails turn to a mud bath and every bit of kit you wear on the bike needs to go through the washing machine, sometimes twice, to get it clean before the next ride.
But it’s the bike washing that takes the prize for the least desirable aspect of winter mountain biking. It needs to be done the moment I get home. Before you’ve had time to relax, before dinner is prepared and before the sofa can be crashed out onto. Get the bike cleaned, inspected and lubed ready for the next ride and packed away before the ride can be classed as finished.
And while it does seem like a chore we would all rather do without, cleaning a bike after a muddy ride does offer the chance to inspect the bike for damage or parts that may be nearing the end of their service life. Brake pads, chains, cassettes can all be assessed during the cleaning process to ensure the your bike will perform the best it can on your next ride.
It’s a strangely therapeutic process, lavishing care and attention on your pride and joy. Seeing your bike gradually return to a clean and shiny state after hours of thrashing through the muddy trails is one to be cherished. A chance for reflection.
So don’t shy away from the cleaning and maintenance of your bike through the winter, instead see it as chance to keep your pride and joy running smoothly. The better your cleaning ritual the longer it’ll last too. And there’s no great feeling than starting a ride with a clean bike, even if it will be caked in mud within the first couple of miles.
The Bikemagic maintenance section is packed with really good advice for cleaning and, where necessary, fixing your bike. Go take a look here www.bikemagic.com/maintenance/7.html