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6 Skills to Know Before Race Day of Jack’s Generic Tri

Be prepared for anything that comes your way during Jack’s Generic Tri by checking out these 6 skills you need to know before race day!

When it comes to triathlons, there is a lot of information that would be beneficial to know before you get out and tackle your first tri. To help you get prepared for Jack’s Generic Tri, we’ve created a list of 6 basic skills that are sure to help you become a better triathlete in the long-run.

How to Change a Flat

6 skills to know before race day

One last bike safety check before the race kicks off!

Follow these 10 steps to fix a flat, and you’ll be back in the race in no time.

1.) Open quick release on break calipers
2.) Open quick release skewer on wheel & remove wheel
3.) Take one side of tire off the rim with your tire levers
4.) Pull out the punctured tube
5.) Check the inside of tire for road debris and cuts in tire
6.) Make sure the rim strip on wheel rim is in it’s proper place
7.) Insert new inner tube between wheel rim and tire
8.) Put the sidewall of tire back onto the rim
9.) Inflate the tube to recommended pressure
10.) Put the wheel back on the bicycle, insert skewer, and re-clamp break calipers

Although it can be tedious, this is a skill you need to know before race day. We recommend using Genuine Innovations Deluxe Ultra Flate tire kit.

How to Fix a Dropped Chain

Get off the bike and steady it in an upright position against something sturdy. To add slack to the chain, push the rear derailleur toward the pedal (forward or inward), and then use your other hand to free the chain from the chainrings or pedals. Line the chain back up with a chainring and cassette to put the chain back in place. Lastly, lift the rear of your bike a few inches off the ground and give the pedals a few turns to allow the chain to find its gear. This seems insignificant, but it’s an important step to keep your chain from more wear and tear throughout the rest of your ride. 

How to Ride in the Rain

Check the weather on race morning to see if you should be prepared to ride in the rain. Throughout the course, avoid standing water. You never know what could be underneath a puddle, and you don’t want to risk a flat tire in wet conditions. Also, be on the lookout for rainbow-colored oil patches in the road to avoid any possible slipping. Stay within your comfort zone, and avoid braking through the corners to prevent losing control. Last but not least, bring some protection for your eyes! Hopefully, you do this when out for any ride, but you will be glad you did in case you find yourself riding in the rain. 

How to Ride While Taking a Drink

You’re bound to get thirsty during the bike portion, so be prepared to ride with one hand during a race. Practice makes perfect. During your training, practice this by removing one hand at a time to build up your confidence. Start with shorter distances, and before you know it you’ll be a pro at riding with one hand. This skill will allow you to eat, drink and signal to other riders while making your way to the finish line.

 

6 skills to know before race day

Jack’s Generic Tri participant sighting during the swim portion

How to Sight in the Water

To avoid swimming a further distance during your tri, sighting is an important skill you should know before an open-water swim. You need to look where you’re going every few strokes to make sure you are staying in line with the buoys. The best method of sighting is to incorporate glancing forward before you go to take a breath. It is recommended to sight every 2 – 3 strokes, but to find what works best for you, you will just have to practice. Pro tip: Look at the swim course before-hand to see if the course goes clockwise or counter-clockwise, then you’ll know to stay on the right or left side of the buoys. 

How to Look Over Your Shoulder

After you perfect riding with one hand, you’ll be ready to learn how to look over your shoulder during your ride. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings during a ride to keep yourself, and others around you safe. It’s all about shifting your weight correctly and keeping your knees, pelvis, and front-wheel facing forward. We advise performing this drill in a parking lot, or on an empty street to make sure you can still ride straight while turned around.

Once you’ve mastered these 6 skills you should know, there will be nothing in your way on race day as you head for the finish line!

Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Clean Bike

Our guide to a clean bike will have your ride look good as new

Everybody knows that when you go for a ride, your bike is bound to get dirty. Whether it’s grease from your indoor trainer or mud and dirt from your ride on the trails, we know how hard it can be to keep your set of wheels clean with all the craziness of training season. Prolong the life of your bike by giving it the TLC it needs with our 7-step guide to a clean bike. Pro tip: download the PDF below to print out our guide to a clean bike!

Follow these steps

  1. Put a little degreaser on the chain. Not too much, a little goes a long way. Let it sit on the chain for about a minute or two.
  2. Give the chain a light scrubbing and rinse it off with the hose/sprayer.
  3. Prepare the Simple Green solution. We recommend a 3:1 ratio of water to Simple Green.
  4. Take your big brush along with the solution and wash all the major components of the bike (i.e. frame, fork, wheels, cranks, and derailleurs). Save your smaller brushes for tighter areas. To avoid missing any spots, start at the back and make your way to the front of the bike.
  5. Spray your bike down with water completely. Wash your tires while you’re at it. It will give you a chance to inspect for any damages your tires may have.
  6. Let it dry. Either air-dry outside or hand-dry it with a towel.
  7. Once completely dry, you can then lube the chain so it’s ready to go on your next ride.

Go the extra mile and wash the bar tape, saddle, and tires. These parts tend to get forgotten and they can get pretty gross if they stay dirty.

Consistency is key. Using our guide to a clean bike will ultimately improve the way your bike handles, as well as extending the life of your bike. Remember: happy bike = happy life.

By: James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles, an Austin, Texas-based mobile bicycle repair company that comes to you. Balentine began working with bikes in 1990 when he was 12. He began racing mountain bikes in 1991 and BMX in 1992, winning 12 national championships before turning pro in 1999. He has worked with USA Triathlon as a mechanic for Team USA since 2004. Since 2013, Balentine has worked with the US Paratriathlon team and is their sole mechanic.

What’s That Noise?! How to Fix a Squeaky Bike

Fix your squeaky bike with these quick steps

You manage to get ready, on your bike, and ready to zen out for some miles when all of a sudden you hear it – squeak… squeak… squeak… AND IT IS SUPER ANNOYING!

Many of us have been annoyed by having a squeaky bike from time to time. The question is, what is it and how do we stop it? There are a few things we can re-tighten and re-grease that make a world of a difference.

sprint triathlon - jacks generic triathlon - austin texas- stop squeaking bike

Jack’s Generic Tri 2016

First, check your pedals. They do come loose and will make a creaking noise. You should re-tighten and re-grease your pedals periodically, especially if you travel or ride in the rain. Using a bike specific pedal wrench will make it easy to get enough leverage to tighten the pedals properly.

Second, check your shoes and cleats. They may need to be lubed and tightened. Loose cleats can not only lead to annoying squeaks but can also be the cause of pain while riding. Speedplays are notorious for having noisy and “sticky” cleats and pedals when they are not lubed properly.

Third, your brakes and wheel alignment. Check both your front and back brake to make sure they are centered. Realign the brakes by pushing them with your hand. If you find your wheel leaning to one side, simply release the quick release lever and let the wheel center itself.

Forth, your chain. Rub your fingers along your bike chain. You should have a light amount of chain lube come off on your fingers. While it may have some color to it, it should not be gritty or thick. If it is, it’s time for a bath or possibly a new chain. If it is dry, be sure to get some chain specific lube on it.

Fifth, your saddle. Check the railing on your seat. If your seat is broken or the railings are loose they will move each time you pedal. If this is the source of your squeaky bike, then don’t keep riding. A loose or broken seat can be dangerous.

Last but not least, check the bolts on your crank arms and cranks. They do come loose and need re-tightening and re-lubing from time to time. If you are uncomfortable with tightening any of these, just stop in your local bike shop. The mechanics are happy to help with a quick safety/squeak check.

Bike transportation is a big culprit when it comes to stuff getting knocked loose. Take your time when loading and unloading your bike. It is also a good idea to do a pre-ride safety check each time you ride. Also, lube is your bike’s friend and it’s not a bad idea to add it to your saddle bag.

Now you can stop the squeaking and enjoy your noise-free ride.

Two Reasons for Skipping Chains

Learn what causes skipping chains and what you can do about it

There are two main causes for skipping chains. The most common cause is the misalignment of the rear cogs and the chain itself. The second most common cause of skipping chains is wearing on the chain, cassette, and/or the chainrings. Read below to see what causes each and how you can prevent chain skipping and extend the life of your bike.

There are several things that can cause the misalignment of the rear cogs and the chain.

  • Improper cable tension. When the tension is incorrect the chain does not sit inline with the corresponding cassette cog and it is trying to jump to the next cog.
  • Dirty cable. The dirt prevents the cable from moving like it needs to.
  • Slightly bent hanger for the rear derailleur. Can affect the alignment.

Learn what you can do about skipping chains on your bike.Skipping chains will wear on the chain, cassette, and/or the chainrings. The chain is the most likely to wear out first since it is made entirely of small, moving parts. Those parts tend to wear out faster when they are dirty or ridden dry. Chains on most modern drivetrains usually last anywhere from 1500 to 2000 miles. This can change depending on your riding style and how well you maintain your bike. If you keep your drivetrain clean and you tend to spin at a slightly higher cadence then you will get more mileage out of your chain. Follow these six steps to clean your drivetrain.

When the chain wears, it no longer sits evenly on the cassette cogs and chainrings. As this goes on the chain will eventually start to jump since the chain wears much faster than the cassette and chainrings. If you let your chain go too long it will start to wear down the teeth of the cassette first and then the chainrings. If the chain is replaced before it is too worn the cassette and chainrings will outlast the chain many times over. You’d much rather want to replace your chain than the cassette and chainrings.

Use this bike tool to measure chain wear at home. You can also call James Balentine at City Limit Cycles. He can measure it for you and make any necessary adjustments and/or fixes.