Usually in this series I have had to write, from scratch, a way for beginners and 'new-to-gravel' folks to learn the ins and outs of riding out in rural areas. But this time will be an exception. That is because I already wrote a post in January of 2019 that is perfect for this series.
In THIS POST (click the link to read it) I uncover the simplest way to clean a bike and tell you what NOT to do and what to use on your bicycle. Now, it may be a rather revolutionary take on cleaning, which you may not believe works. That's okay- I understand- but if you want to re-invent the wheel and find out the hard way what NOT to do, then I cannot stop you.
Okay, with that said I will add that there were a few things I inferred when I wrote that post. I will break those out here now for you. Here is a list of stuff I would have on hand to use:
- Rags: Preferably terry cloth, thinner rags, or old t-shirts torn up into strips. Old used up bath towels are awesome for this.
- Soft bristle brushes used for washing other things, but don't get anything huge. The smaller and easier to fit into tight spaces the better.
- A bucket to keep rags, brushes, and your cleaner in.
- I recommend Pedro's Bike Lust, but there are other bike wash/cleaners and of course, household cleaners, which will do okay. Don't use anything you wouldn't use on your appliances. furniture, etc. Stay away from caustic cleaners and aggressive formulas. They may hurt your skin, paint on the bike, or attack aluminum finishes.
- As always, use rubber gloves and safety glasses.
- Pick a spot to clean where you can easily sweep up the remains of dust, dirt, and mud clods that you knock off your bicycle. In other words, not in the living area!
You will find that behind the fork up by the frame, down by the junction of the frame tubes where your crank is, and the crank itself are usually the dirtiest parts of the bike after a gravel ride. (Study my image above of my Nobel Bikes gravel rig here and see for yourself) Think you are done cleaning? Flip your bicycle over and look again. You might be surprised how much more cleaning you can do! \
One more benefit of a thorough cleaning of your bike from time to time is that you end up giving your bike a great visual inspection. You'll pick up on things a lot quicker later on, and you will learn how your bicycle is put together. This will lead to a better understanding when someone starts telling you about parts and whatnot and you will be able to better connect the dots and begin to understand what is being spoken of.
Patience is key when cleaning. I can clean up a bike pretty fast these days- after doing it for years, I should be fast, right? But I recall that when I started out, this could take hours to do. Now- it all depends upon how picky you are, but my best advice is that don't shoot for 'perfectly clean', because riding always trumps that! However; if you have the time, go for it!
For extra credit you can take a deeper dive into cleaning by reading my follow-up post to that original one that I linked to by Clicking HERE.
Next Week: We get into How and Where to ride with "Routes and Navigation Basics".