If you have ever taken the BICAS BASIC MAINTENANCE class then you know how to fix a flat, adjust your brakes and do an ABC safety check on your bicycle. But what about that one time a year in Tucson when a sudden Chubasco interrupts your evening ride along the Santa Cruz? What do you do to stay safe? And what tips and tricks should we add to our maintenance routine during Monsoon Season?
First of all, Stay SAFE! Here are our favorite tips for navigating Tucson streets by bike during Monsoon.
Wait it out. By definition, our summer storms are violent, sudden and short. Find shelter if possible and just chill for 30-40 mins. Order another round of french fries. Lightning storms are very dangerous. If you are caught out in lightning and flooding conditions, find cover and high ground. A car is pretty safe in a lightning storm but a bicycle isn’t. This is a good time to ask for a ride to shelter if needed.
Trash bags make good ponchos. If you are out running errands or enjoying dinner with friends, the establishment probably has those large black trash bags handy. Cut a couple neck and arm holes and your ride home (after the worst has passed) will be much drier. Bonus: small grocery bags tied over your saddle will help keep your butt dry too.
Lower your air pressure. A lower pressure tire has better traction on the roads when wet. The first 20 mins of a storm are when the road is the most slippery. Slow down
Potholes hide in puddles. Tucson streets flood, and it can take hours for the flood waters to recede from your regular route home. Use caution and don’t cross any fast moving water or go into the under passes downtown. If you do need to cross, consider walking. It’s hard to tell how deep it is, and even if you ride this route everyday- you might not be able to see that wheel-eating pothole you usually avoid.
Clean off the gunk. Get out those shop rags or old cut up t-shirts and wipe down your bike. Gunk likes to build up on the inside of the rear triangle, the inside of the fork and around the bottom bracket and drive train, causing all kinds of problems braking or shifting. So clean off the worst of the road grime. Remove the wheels to clean the brake calipers. Use a commercial degreaser or a bucket of water with dish soap.
Degrease and oil the drivetrain. How often should you oil your chain? Well right after a monsoon dunking is a good time. After removing the road grime and dirt from the chain with a rag and stiff brush, apply a chain lube to all the moving parts. This will help prevent rust. Make sure to wipe the chain and derailleurs down after lubrication to reduce dirt build up next time you ride.
Go outside and smell the Creosote. Best part of a monsoon season storm is the aftermath. The temperature has just dropped 15 degrees, a cool breeze is blowing the wonderful smells of the desert. The animals are all out along the Santa Cruz enjoying the evening weather also. Watch out for lizards! Prickly pear season is just around the corner and cooler temperatures ahead! This is the perfect time for a sunset ride on the west side of town. Just make sure the storm clouds have moved on.