Chad Nordwall owns Above Category Cycling in Sausalito. He believes in excellence. Chad sells custom bikes built of components that he has tested over a lifetime of riding. AC is a bike shop but it feels more like a museum. Everything you see is the finest of its type made. Baum, Mosaic and Pinarello frames, Assos gear, all the best stuff – even the magazines.
The other day I talked to Chad for a bit while he tuned up my bike. He passed on some good info that can help all of us ride safer.
1. Keep track of your bike
Chad used to race. He said before some races they would not let you start if your bike wasn’t clean. A dirty bike was a bike that had not been looked over and a neglected bike was one that could fail in a tight pack of riders. So Chad says, check your bike frequently. Wash it, wipe it down and while you’re doing that – look it over.
2. Regular maintenance
Along the same lines, get your bike worked on regularly. Chad is not trying to drum up business here. He ‘s not likely to tune your bike up unless you bought it from him. Assuming you are riding regularly, the idea is to overhaul your bike four times a year. Look to change your chain every 2500 miles or so, all the cables once a year and the rest as needed. Your bike should be operating at its best. There is no glory in riding a bike that is falling apart, especially when it breaks descending off of Tam.
The tires are where you and your bike meet the road. It makes sense that you want your tires to be at their best. Don’t ride tires that are worn, cracked from heat or damaged in any way. Spend the money and get a new set. Check them before every ride. Chad looks for slits in the tires where debris can work its way down to the tube inside. This is a way flats happen. Get a sharp pointed tool to remove bits of debris from those slits or anywhere else in the tire. I got this one at Jacksons Hardware in San Rafael. Staying on top of your tires can prevent more than flats: blowing out your front tire while descending can lead to facial reconstruction.
4. Stay aware
The general rule in cycling is to stay aware of everything around you. Watch the road, listen for cars, know where your fellow cyclists are.
5. Be cognizant of the danger other cyclists present
Chad says even many strong cyclists lack good bike technique. He says its a good idea to warn others somehow as you approach them. Somehow, let them know you are coming so that you can go around them safely.
6. Get a bike light
Chad recommends a bright light as the best way to make yourself known to others on the road. A light is more effective than clothing. I like my Serfas Thunderbolt. Others do too.
Go check out Chad’s new shop in Sausalito. He’s a good guy and he sells good stuff.