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A top pro’s four steps to keep you safe and prepared on the bike.
As a professional triathlete, American Ben Hoffman is on his bike almost every day, so he has his pre-ride rituals down pat. Here are the essential things he does before hitting the road.
Do a bolt check. Once a week, Hoffman checks the main bolts on his bike to make sure they haven’t loosened because of rough roads or simply the miles he’s been riding. “If you’re on a really long descent—right now I’m training in Tucson and ride Mount Lemmon a couple times a month and it’s about a 25-mile descent—sometimes after climbing I’ll check the front skewer and make sure everything is tight. Make sure it’s tight and right or you could end up on the side of the road injured.”
Pump up tires. “You can lose a lot of tire pressure overnight in between rides. I try to take into account what conditions I’ll be riding in—if it’s really rainy outside, I might lower the tire pressure to increase the traction. There’s also been some mixed information about tire pressure as of late, and the best understanding that I have is that lower tire pressures are generally better, compared to what’s historically been out there. I tend to run anything from 90–100 psi, depending on conditions, with a little bit less in the front tire because I’m putting my weight on the aerobars. If you’re on rough roads and your tires are bouncing, you’re going to be a lot more comfortable if you’re running a little bit lower [psi] because you’ll keep the tire in contact with the road surface.”
Lube chain. “When you put the lube on, make sure you take a lot of the chain lube off with a rag,” Hoffman says. “If you leave a lot on there, it will bring a lot of dirt and break down your drivetrain. Clean it every single ride—even a short ride, like a 30-miler, would end up carrying a lot of dirt on the chain.”
Check saddlebag for essentials. Hoffman carries one spare tube (with the proper stem size for his wheels), a CO2 cartridge and head unit, two tire irons and a valve extender just in case. “I also carry a small piece of rubber from an old tire, which I can use as a patch if I blow out a sidewall, or I can also use it to hold the CO2 when I open it up.”