Something a lot of us overlook until something happens is the overall condition of our bikes. This past weekend at Boyette it seems there were a lot of mechanical issues that popped up with peoples bikes from seats breaking to forks giving out.
Off road biking is pretty rough on our faithful steeds which requires us to look a bit more closely to our bikes after our weekly rides before we put them up for the next ride.
A few things to initailly look for between rides:
Is there an annoying little creak sound somewhere? What could it be? Loose pedal or cleat? Take a wrench and check tightnes of pedals. Better yet take the pedals off and clean them, lube the threads of the spindle and reattach to proper tightness.
Maybe the seat is making the noise. Just a shot of spray lube where the rails meet the seat body; or is there a stress crack in the plastic housing of the seat. Something like that can make an otherwise enjoyable ride a painful memory. Or the seat post itself is where the noise is coming from which could indicate it's starting to crack. Pull it off the bike and clean it and the downtube that it fits into. Inspect the post closely for a hairline crack either horizontally or vertical. Put some grease on it and wipe it off so there is only a thin layer left on then reattatch it to the bike.
Check to see that your crank arms are good and tight. A loose crank bolt will make a creaking noise and shorten the life of those attached parts.
While cleaning your frame, lightly clean with a low pressure water hose and soft brush and towel dry it. Then go back over with a spray bottle of windex and a clean rag and old toothbrush to easily get the dirt from hidden little corners and hard to reach areas while inspecting carefully for cracks at the welds and anyplace things connect.
Don't forget to remove, clean, relube where the handlebars connect too. This is a common area of stress and creaking noise caused by dirt or impacts from crashes and falls.
Also check your wheels for trueness simply by holding the bike up and spinning the wheels. If they wobble or appear to have a bump to them have the bike shop true them for somewhere around $12. Well worth the price. Also while cleaning the wheels look closely at the nipples that attach the spokes. Do they appear to have stress cracks on the rims next to them? Could mean it's time for a new wheel. A lot of times this can be taken care of under warranty at no charge. Check your chain for wear too. If you ride often then about every six months or so you should replace your chain and cassete, then every other time replace your most used chain ring up front.
Especially if you're going to take an out of state trip you want to go over, or have someone go over, your bike and ride it for any abnormal sounds or feelings before you go.
Hope this helps some of you.
Great rides to all.