TCI Friday

I kiss my wife, pat the dog on the head, and tromp down the stairs to the basement. My bike shoes are there. My helmet is there. All the gloves and hats and warmers. The pump. There is no reason to go back up the stairs.

Sunglasses. Shit. Back up the stairs for my sunglasses.

Back to the basement. I check tires. I pump. I let air back out. I lift the rear of the bike and spin the crank to hear the sound. A little reedy. I lube the chain, rolling it backwards the derailleur cages, bracing my hand against the spokes. Drip. Drip. Drip. One drip per link. Clench it loosely with the rag. Roll it through again.

I lift the front end and drop it to hear that sound. Nothing loose. No unexpected rattles. I search my memory for any traces of small adjustment I promised myself I’d make before riding again. Lube the chain already. That wasn’t it. Check the bar tape. Test headset tension. Nope.

I have to pee again. Always.

Back up the stairs. By now the wife is amused. Even the dog looks askance. I have my shoes on, but they’re not strapped, not ratcheted. I’m clip-clopping. I have my helmet on. Unstrapped. Askew. Am I any closer to ready than when I kissed her on the cheek ten minutes ago?

I felt readier then.

This is how it goes though. This is me taxiing out to the runaway, going through my pre-takeoff checks, the flight attendants gesturing mutely toward the exits, checking everyone’s seatbelt. Tray tables up. Sir, you need to move your bag fully under the seat.

And then I leave, without the water bottles I filled and put next to the refrigerator.

This week’s TCIF asks, do you have a pre-ride ritual? A departure routine? Is it tight and efficient or chaotic and rambling like mine? Do you have all your stuff staged in a certain way? Or do you careen around, gathering the things you might need as you go? Are you early to the meet up? Right on time? Or late, like I often am?

Join the conversation
  1. khal spencer says

    Coffee. Most important part of the pre-ride ritual.

    1. Emlyn Lewis says

      @Khal – Oh yes. Two cups minimum. I’ve even been known to put iced coffee in one of my bottles.

  2. Jeff vdD says

    Tight and efficient.

    Basics are in my bike duffel: helmet, shoes, sunscreen, bug spray, rain jacket, gels (replenished after each ride), tool roll for jersey pocket. The night before (or the day of if I know that I’ve got a fair bit of time after waking up), I pull together kit: jersey, bibs, socks, gloves, and anything dictated by temperature. Finally (again, night before, usually), I charge lights (blinky and/or for seeing) and fill bottles with water and/or hydration mix. I put my car keys with the lights/bottles.

    Day of, I put on the kit I set out (or travel in Muggle clothes, changing into kit that’s in my bike duffel). At the ride start, I empty the ride section of my duffel–when it’s empty, everything’s on the bike or my person.

  3. bluezurich says

    Unless I’m bonked/dead tired upon coming home from a ride, I do minor prep or tuneup work for the next right away. You might call it anal or OCD but if there was something not quite right on the current ride, it’s fresh in the memory and tackling it makes tomorrow that much smoother. As for all the other tidbits, I have a dedicated drawer in the mudroom for jersey stuff/warmers and food. This bike stuff is nothing compared to being prepared as a photographer. Talk about prepping for a job, not too mention G.A.S. lol.

  4. Austin says

    “I have to pee again. Always.”

    Your description of this week’s TCI Friday spoke to me so deeply. I wish I was faster, but always seem to take longer than I anticipate. So I get ready earlier. Even so. Part of me feels like I used to be faster pre-ride when I first started cycling. Maybe I was. Maybe I cared less back then.

    Even though I might be slow, my pre-ride prep is somewhat orderly with the occasional bumbling. Most of my gear lives in the same general area of the house, sunglasses/garmin/lights/knick knacks stay in my helmet when I’m not riding. I’m fortunate to own multiple bikes but there’s always the extra fumbling of moving my single tool roll from one bike to another. I always pump the tires before each ride. I once forgot to and (surprise, surprise) the ride was fine. In general, I like to be early when meeting a friend. I don’t like to make people wait on me. But I don’t mind waiting on a friend. It’s all good.

  5. alanm9 says

    It depends on the ride. For the morning commute it’s totally dialed; from drinking coffee in pj’s to dodging cars in 55 minutes. The weekend rides tend toward what Robot describes. There is always something to go back upstairs for, or that “quick” adjustment that takes 20 minutes. You’d think I would learn by now because I live in a top floor condo; every return trip is 5 flights of stairs. But, nope. I think it goes deeper than that, but I don’t wanna know.

  6. southcarolinamtb says

    I love this post. Thanks. My routine is dialed in and efficient, as long as I am repeating the same kind of ride. Where i struggle is one day riding gravel, another day riding road, and then the next day riding mtb. I never seem to have that really together. Maybe it would help to have a seperate tool kit for each discipline / bike, but that’s nuts. and you know, mtb gloves aren’t right for road riding. except in winter time. In winter, it seems like there are fewer choices to make sense of and easier to get out the door. I always need sunscreen for a road ride – except in winter. I usually need bugspray for a mtb ride – except in winter. what the hell? no wonder I end up walking back in for something and, like you, end up wasting enough time to hit the bathroom one more time.

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