For all the experienced cyclists out there this article will seem a little trite. However, my target audience is those who don’t ride very often and are entering their first major community ride. Better to be reminded of things you should do before hand than find out the hard way on the day.
The Bobbin Head Cycle Classic normally takes place mid to late March each year so early January is a good time to start your preparations. Items that should form part of your checklist are:
3 Months before the Ride
- Go to the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic website, research the info contained therein and choose a suitable ride from the 4 options available – don’t over commit – if this is your first community ride better to go for the 27km unless you are willing to train in advance for one of the longer ride options (ie the 57km, the 80km or the 104km);
- Once you are comfortable with the idea tell your friends and family of your intention and register for the ride of your choice on the website. Ideally find a mate or group who will ride with you;
- This is a community cycling event, a prime purpose of which is to raise funds for Lifeline and other Rotary International charities. Now would be a good time to start your own fundraising for the ride;
- Purchase a quality pair of padded cycling nicks, if you don’t have any, and wear them beforehand to ensure they are comfortable;
- Ensure you have a comfortable bike seat. Padded nicks and a comfortable bike seat can be the difference between an enjoyable day and a miserable experience.
- Ensure you have a comfortable helmet that hasn’t been dropped and meets the required Australian safety standard;
- Start or continue to ride regularly with friends of a similar standard to you;
- Ensure you have a good quality bike ideally with road or commuter tyres. Nobly off road tyres are OK. However, these have less grip on painted bitumen surfaces, especially in the wet. All Bobbo ride options are on paved roads;
- Have a suitable bike pump mounted on your bike or alternatively carry pressurized gas cylinders with a suitable applicator for your particular wheel valve type;
Presta Valve Type
- Schrader Valve Type
- Have a saddle or down-tube mounted container with at least one new spare tube to match your wheel size, a set of 3 tyre levers, a small set of Alan keys and / or screw drivers / spanners to enable your wheels to be removed and reinstalled in the event of a puncture and any loose screws / bolts to be tightened. Also good to carry some spare rag to wipe your hands after doing any mobile repairs.
- Make sure you have a working bell mounted on the handle bar.
Bike Seat Bag
1 Week before the Ride
- Ideally have your bike serviced at a bike shop;
- Make sure the gears are changing correctly;
- Make sure you have good brake pads and that the brakes are working efficiently;
- Clean the frame and remove any dust and grime, degrease the chain and drive train and lube the chain and moving parts with a good quality dry lube;
- If you have booked one of the rides that leave before official sunrise, make sure you have a working front and back light mounted on your bike;
- Make sure you know how to change a puncture and re-mount a dropped chain;
- Check for loose screws or alan bolts that need to be tightened, especially the handlebar and the bike seat;
- Check your seat post is clamped at the best height for you to pedal efficiently and that your seat is mounted horizontally.
The Day before the Ride
- Do a quick review of your bike to ensure all is in order;
- If you are planning to travel to the ride start at Karuah Oval, Turramurra by train plan your trip. A good app to assist you with this for your smartphone is called ‘Tripview’.
- If you are travelling to the ride by car, Google Maps is a good option to plan your route and determine travel times;
- If you are riding to the start, determine a safe route and the distance. Allow enough time with extra to spare to ride to the start (I suggest working on an average speed of around 12kms per hour to ride the distance comfortably.
- Have a read and digest my Group Cycling Etiquette on the Bobbo Blog site to refresh your memory on how to minimize your risks when riding in a group.
- Also have a read of Ku ring gai Council’s Bicycle Riders handbook for a more comprehensive outline of these and other preparation issues.
The Day of the Ride
- Have a hearty breakfast and at least drink a tall glass of water before hand;
- If you are travelling to the ride by car or train, don’t forget to pack your helmet and front and rear bike lights (and your Opal Card if travelling by train);
- Ensure the straps of your helmet straddle your ears and fit tightly around your chin (ideally tightened enough to allow a couple of finger widths between the strap and your chin);
- Check your tyre pressures and ensure they are inflated to the recommended levels (normally maximum tyre pressures are written on the sidewall of the tyres);
Recommended Tyre Pressure on Tyre
- Wear a brightly coloured top, ideally a lycra cycle shirt;
- Wear a comfortable pair of padded nicks, ideally ones you’ve worn before and know how comfortable they are. If you’re doing the longer distances, ideally wear apply chamois cream (or a good skin cream eg Nivea Soft Moisturising Cream) to your tender bits that come into contact with the saddle;
- Wear good enclosed comfortable shoes that suit your pedals and footsize;
- It will more than likely be cool at the start of the ride so wear a light weight wind / spray jacket that you can take off later (and carry in your cycle shirt pocket) when you warm up; and
- Make sure you slap on sunscreen (especially on your face) beforehand. If you are bald, it’s a good idea to wear a bandana under your helmet to protect your head from the sun’s rays that find their way through the gaps in your helmet
The Bobbo is a fully supported community ride with ample water stops and marshals to guide you along the way. There will be around 500 volunteers to assist on the day including mobile support riders in the event of a minor mechanical issue or puncture. There will also be a couple of mobile bike repair vans that can assist with any major repairs. However, the mobile mechanics and support riders will be spread across all the ride options and, if you aren’t self sufficient in getting up and running again quickly in the event of a minor repair, there could be a long wait until someone can assist you.
Good preparation is the key to a successful day so please heed the above recommendations and have a great day.
About the Author
The author is currently a member of Ku ring gai Rotary Club and Team Leader of the Mobile Support Riders for the Bobbin Head Cycle Classic 2018. He is a regular group cyclist and cycles 3 to 4 days a week with 3 different groups in Sydney’s northern suburbs. As well as his weekly routine of cycling he has completed numerous intrastate, interstate and overseas social cycling events. He rides essentially for pleasure and fitness.