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Spring cleaning is not just for your house. Get your gear cave in order so you can be ready to get back outside. Here are five ways to start clean.
1. Clean Your Bike
A clean bike is a fast bike, and a safe one too. It can take as little as 10 minutes to clean your bike and it’s not as hard as you may think. If you’ve been riding outside, you’ve inevitably picked up plenty of grit and grime from the roads to your chain, cassette, frame, rims, etc. Getting that stuff off will make your bike faster and prevent wear and tear since all that road debris creates friction and slowly eats away at your components. Even if your bike has been sitting on the trainer for the past few months, all of the sweat, water and sports drink that has dripped onto your top tube and splattered across your frame needs to be washed off.
2. Get Rid of Expired Nutrition
All of the bars, gels, powders and pills that you need to train and race do eventually go bad. While they will likely not make you sick, the flavor and texture can deteriorate, leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth.
3. Trade Out Your Heart Rate Monitor Strap
If you use your heart rate monitor for every bike and run, chances are the chest strap has seen better days. Replacing your old one with a soft, clean and odorless new one is a small luxury that can put a smile on your face. Prices range from $15 for a basic model to over $100 for models that work while swimming. Just make sure that you purchase one that uses the same technology (ANT+ or Bluetooth) to transmit as your device.
Or, you can ditch the strap all together and upgrade to a watch that uses wrist based heart rate monitoring. Basic activity trackers that use this technology start at only $50, but a fully capable watch starts at around $200 and goes up quickly.
4. Clean Your Water Bottles
Like expired nutrition, a little mold in your water bottle won’t kill you, but it may make you sick. If you’ve neglected your bottles, you have a few solutions. First, if the bottle is dishwasher safe, throw it in on the bottom rack. If not, you can make a weak bleach solution of one tablespoon of household bleach to one quart of water. Shake up the bottle and let it sit for about two minutes. Then squirt some through the top spout, dump out the rest, rinse clean and let it dry completely. Your last resort is to simply toss them out and buy new ones.
5. Replace Your Helmet Pads or Helmet
A year or so of long miles under the hot sun can do a number on the pads in your helmet. What once wicked away perspiration may not lead to a river of sweat in your eyes. You can remove the pads and wash them with soap and water, and if that doesn’t work you can order a new set, which typically run around $20.
Of course the other option is to go with a full replacement. The recommended timeline for replacing your helmet ranges from three years (from a manufacturer) up to eight years (from the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute). These days, nearly all helmets available in the US are certified by the US Consumer Safety Protection Commission, which is required by USA Triathlon.