What: The first day of spring is a great time to get your bicycle ready for the upcoming riding season. It needs a little TLC regardless of whether it spent the winter in the garage gathering dust or was ridden regularly through winter’s gunk.
At the very least: Give it a thorough cleaning. Check the air pressure in the tires and inspect them for cracks or tears. Test the brakes — the two pads should hit the rim at the same time. If the timing is off, adjust it with the tension screw near the tire on the brake lever arm. Oil the chain, derailleur and pivot points on the brakes (don’t overdo it; wipe off excess oil).
Going the extra step: Check the spokes to make sure that none of them are loose. If the wheel still isn’t spinning true, the ball bearings might need repacking. With a helper holding up the back wheel, run through the gears to see if the shifting is smooth. If not, the derailleur needs to be adjusted. These all can be DYI projects if you know what you’re doing, but you might want to head to a bike shop.
Don’t forget yourself: If you haven’t been on your bike for a while, you’re probably going to need a little tuneup, too. A tall stretch — reaching upward — helps loosen back muscles. Holding a plank for 30 seconds works core muscles. And doing a set of 10 bridges — lie on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly planted, then raise your abdomen — engages the glute muscles used while pedaling. In addition, exercise physiologists recommend starting the ride at a gentle pace and gradually building the intensity over the first 15 minutes.