6 Things to Do Before Every Ride

Prepare yourself and your bike for a great ride with this checklist, complete with a few tips for what to check on afterwards, too. 


BY BRIAN FISKE |

Superstar trials rider and pro mountain biker Ryan Leech was getting worn out on the sport he loves. He needed to switch up his approach to being on the bike. He wasn’t sure how to undergo such a shift until he underwent certification to become an Integral Master Coach to teach mountain biking skills, a process he says saved his relationship with riding because of the deep personal work involved.

“I was on a riding burnout trajectory, quickly losing my love of bikes due to the demands of a pro-riding career,” he says. “What a loss that would have been for me!”

Many cyclists can probably relate. Sometimes doing too much riding or not training smart can lead to a burnout that then leads to a plummet in motivation to hop in the saddle. And no matter your riding style or level, it can be tough to keep your training dialled at all times. That’s why we asked Leech to share what helps keep him on track with his riding.

Here are his suggestions regarding a pre-ride checklist (and a few to do after) that will help keep the experience fun, safe, and rewarding for the long haul.

What to Check on Your Bike: Pre-ride Checklist

“Making sure my bike is in optimal working condition is a ritual before every ride.” Leech says. “If I have any doubts about the durability or functionality of my bike, it will affect my confidence and thus my performance.”

Here’s how to keep those doubts at bay.

Before Every Ride

  • Tyre pressureAll tyres leak air over time, so make sure to pump your tyres before every ride to the ideal pressure.
  • Brake feel at the lever. A couple of squeezes at the lever and a glance at the brake pads can alert you to sticky cables that need changing, spongy brakes that need bleeding, or worn pads that need to be replaced.
  • Shifter feel during gear changes. Quickly run through the gears to check for skipping or other signs of derailleur alignment issues.

After Every Ride

  • Clean and lube the chain. This removes any grime from your ride and preps the chain for your next one.
  • Note performance issues. Keep track of pops, squeaks, clicks, or missed shifts during the ride, and check things out afterward. If you aren’t sure how to fix a mechanical issue, head to the shop. Riding a bike that isn’t performing well will only set you up for frustration.

What to Do Before a Ride for Your Body

“Technology can provide plenty of data about how your body is doing preride,” Leech says, “but don’t discount your instincts and intuitions.” Add these mental tips to your pre-ride checklist.

  • Know your stress level. Lack of sleep, work stress, relationship issues, and the like can all sap your energy. Be self-aware and acknowledge how you feel before you ride, so you accept possible limitations.
  • Accept your strength. If you’ve been riding well and feeling strong, acknowledge it (and enjoy it!) before the ride. And then, during the ride, make sure you aren’t overtraining or pushing too hard, which can knock you down from that awesome state.

What to Do Before Every Ride for Your Mind

“It’s important to set an intention for every ride,” Leech says. “But you need to know that there’s a difference between a habitual, assumed intention for the ride and a more nuanced, in-the-moment intention.”

  • Get your mind into the ride. It takes only seconds to purposefully think through the current state of your bike, your body, and your mind, which will let you set your intention for the ride you’re about to do—how you’ll ride and what you’ll get out of it—for what you’re about to do. “This creates a far more enriching riding experience,” Leech says.

READ MORE ON: checklist pre-ride Skills tips

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