Some things in cycling having nothing to do with training harder. To make your next ride as comfortable and stress-free as possible, use these eight cycling hacks you’ll wish you’d known earlier.
PRESTA TO SCHRADER CONVERSION
HACK: VALVE CAP
Whether it’s extra weight or aesthetics, many cyclists choose to toss valve caps as soon as a new inner tube is installed. However, bringing one of your valve caps along for the ride can actually serve a very useful purpose.
Since most road bike inner tubes use Presta valves, you’ll need to have a pump or CO2 cartridge that is Presta compatible to air up after a flat. But what happens when you leave your pocket pump at the house or you’ve gotten the seal wrong with your only CO2 cartridge? Instead of opting for the emergency call home, if you can get to a gas station, you can use the valve cap to convert your Presta valve into a Schrader, allowing you to refill at any compressor pump. Simply cut off the top of the valve cap and screw it on so only the tip of the Presta valve is exposed.
CLEAN YOUR BIKE
HACK: FURNITURE POLISH
While there are some excellent frame cleaners and protectants on the market, chances are you already have something at home that could do the job just as well.
For a cheaper alternative to bike-specific products, try wiping your frame down with furniture polish after you’ve rinsed it off. Lemon Pledge works really well, and not only polishes your frame, but also keeps dirt and grime away from your bike on the next ride. It’ll smell great, too!
SALVAGE A TIRE
HACK: GEL WRAPPER
Sure, you’re prepared for the occasional punctured inner tube. But what about a sliced tire? Not many cyclists carry around an extra tire in their jersey pocket, and gashing your rubber can all but leave you stranded roadside since you can’t put any air in the inner tube without it bulging out.
To remedy the problem, you can create a tire boot with either a gel wrapper or a dollar bill by lining the inside of the tire. This allows you to inflate the inner tube enough to get home and prevents exposing your tube to the road.
WEARING OUT TIRES
HACK: ROTATE THEM
Good cycling tires can make your handling more confident, your ride more comfortable and improve your average speed. On the downside, they can also be expensive, ranging all the way up to $80 for a single tire.
To make them last longer, rotate your tires just as you might on your car. Since the rear tire bears more weight, it’ll wear faster. If it starts to look more worn than the front, swap them every now and then. You’ll be surprised how much longer you can go before buying a new pair.
HACK: GO TO BED HUNGRY
There’s a reason the pros often go to bed hungry. After about 4–5 hours, the body begins to burn fat as fuel. If you eat dinner around 6 p.m. and don’t eat breakfast until after 6 a.m. the following day, you’ll have around seven fat-burning hours while you’re sleeping. This form of intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, though, especially if you’re expecting a boost in performance.
HACK: KEEP SPF IN A CONTACT LENS CASE
Even if you apply a waterproof sunscreen before you head out for a ride, most only provide protection from harmful UV rays for 90 minutes before reapplication is needed. This means you’ll need to bring some along for the ride if you’re planning on going long.
How to transport enough for reapplication without carrying the whole bottle in your jersey pocket is the tricky part. Travel-size shampoo bottles are one way to do it, but I like using a contact lens case. It’s small and doesn’t take up much room, and the divider makes it easy to put sunscreen in one side and lip balm in the other.
GRIMEY WATER BOTTLES
HACK: LIME JUICE
If you use sports drinks in your water bottles, then you’re probably aware funky stuff can begin to grow down at the bottom pretty quickly. Instead of spending money to buy a new bottle, squeeze a little lime in your bottle before you head out for your next ride.
The antibacterial properties in lime help keep your bottle clean and free from any mold spores, which can make you sick. Lime also helps put a little flavor in plain water and provides a vitamin C boost while you’re on the bike.
TOO MANY BIBS AND NO SPACE
HACK: ROLL YOUR BIBS
Bibshorts are definitely worth the investment if you’re looking for additional comfort in the saddle. But storing them — either in the closet or in your drawer — can be a pain if you’ve got several pairs. To save room and keep your drawers nice and tidy, try this old pro trick of rolling them up. After folding both legs in toward the midline, roll your bibs from the bottom up. Once you reach the straps, wrap them around your shorts using a figure eight.