We've had Rain, Snow, Ice, Gale force Winds, - everything you'd expect from an English Winter.
Our bikes have either carried us faithfully all through this or been locked away in the shed, protected, but neglected.
Either way, with Spring coming we need to repay this with a little Tender, Loving Care to our bikes to get them ready for the miles ahead. Most of the things I will mention can be done at home, but if you have any doubts your local cycle shop will be happy to carry out a service.
Firstly we need to check the tyres. Make sure that there is enough tread left on them. Bald tyres get punctures more easily and they don't grip the road properly. Then ensure that they are fully inflated, and check the outside tread for embedded thorns or flints.
Any that you find need to be removed before they work their way through and cause a puncture.
The wheels have to be turned to get us moving so it is important that the pedals, chain and gears are reliable. In bad weather a lot of dirt and dust gathers on this part of the bike, near the ground.
Even if the chain is well oiled the dust and grit stick to the mechanism.
Special devices are available to clean the chain without taking it off the bike, but it can be cleaned with a cleaning fluid and a brush applied while you are turning the pedals backwards. Pay special attention to the gear block or cassette. Dirt always gathers in the slots between each gear. Simple brushing can't get there but a slender stick, like a Kebab stick, will do the trick. Once all the greasy, gritted muck has been removed a squirt or two of cleaning fluid and a good brushing will stop that grit working its way into other parts.
Once the chain is fairly clean, wipe it with an old rag, again turning the pedals backwards, then apply a light cycle oil ready for the rides ahead.
The oil helps all the little joints to move freely and deters rust from seizing up the chain if it gets wet. Now we need to think about stopping!
Brake blocks wear down with use, and the material they are made from can deteriorate with time and the weather. Check them over and replace them if necessary. It's an easy job to do and they are not very expensive to buy, but absolutely vital.
The brake and gear levers need very little maintenance but a touch of oil on the pivot points is useful before looking at the cables.
Check that they move freely when the levers are operated. If the cables are sticking and rusty they will need replacing, but that is not something that is needed every year.
Finally a good clean to the frame.
Do not use a power spray as pressurised water can be forced into bearings and joints. A bucket of water, a sponge and some car shampoo should remove most of the dirt and for a finish and a shine, a spray on furniture polish such as Pledge, sprayed on to a cloth and wiped over the painted parts, before bringing to a shine with a clean cloth will finish the job.
Your clean, shiny bike will reward all this love and attention during your riding in 2018.
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