Thursday, September 9, 2021

BikeWalkLee: Getting ready to hit the road

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, September 9, 2021
by Ken Gooderham 

September is the signal that cooler times should lie ahead, which for many means getting your bike and run gear ready for regular use once more. (If you’ve been riding and running all summer long, good for you… but this may still apply).

As you look over your equipment, what should you be watching for – and why?

Let’s start with bicycles – more moving parts, for one thing, which means more things that can go awry. In no particular order:

  • Chains: Estimated life could be 2,000-3,000 miles, but how you care for your chain is crucial for how long it will last. Keep it clean and lubricated, and you’ll have many happy miles. Not so clean or not so lubed, then not so long. (The conditions where you ride also matter here.) If you want to good chain maintenance, clean it with a good degreaser and re-lube it with the proper lubricant… and perhaps  invest in a low-cost chain check, a simple tool that allows you to measure wear by showing how stretched the chain has become.
  • Chainring: That’s the big ring(s) up front tied to the pedals. If you take care of your chain, your chainring should last a long time… but a bad chain or damage to the teeth can lead to fast failure. A cursory glance should let you see if there’s bent or broken teeth… which means it’s time to replace it.
  • Cassette: This is the stack of sprockets on the back hub of your bike. Much like the chainring, cassettes are tied to chain wear and care. If teeth are bent or broken or if your chain jumps when you pedal, it could be time for a new one.
  • Cables & housings: Two separate systems on most bikes, one for braking and the other for shifting gears. Look for broken or cracked housing and frayed or rusted cables – both signs it’s time to replace (or risk failure at the most inopportune moment).
  • Tires & tubes: Sometimes, it’s really easy to know it’s time to replace one or both… when they go flat and won’t hold any air. However, these need to be viewed as two separate items (naturally), since a bad tube does not necessarily mean a bad tire.
    If a tube can’t hold air, it’s done for… which is why most serious cyclists carry a spare with them along with the tools necessary to replace one on the road. (Word of warning: If you do lose a tube, be sure to check the inside of the tire for debris that might have caused the flat before putting the new tube on and reassembling… or whatever caused the first flat could still be there to cause another one.)
    Tires can be trickier, but usually it should be obvious: If the tread is worn smooth, if the wear indicators (some tires have those) show or if there’s obvious dry rot or cracking, replace the tire ASAP. It’s always smart to fix your tires before you need to… unless you like to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of your ride.
  • Brakes: Two parts here… cables (addressed above) and pads. You can check the pads visually for wear and cracks (and remove junk on them before it damages anything), or you can pay attention when your braking starts to change for the worse (but before it fails altogether).
  • Seats: Let your butt be your guide here. If it gets uncomfortable to ride, if the seat has cuts or gouges or loses its structural integrity, get a new one.
  • Helmets: If you’re in a crash where your helmet takes a hit, thank it for saving your noggin – and get a new one. The foam lining, once compressed, doesn’t bounce back very well… and that’s what protects your head most in a crash. Otherwise, manufacturers recommend getting a new helmet every 5-10 years (check inside yours for its date of manufacture as a guide), mostly due to heat, humidity and wear-and-tear breaking down the protective cushioning (and, of course, so the manufacturers can make some money). However, many experts are quick to point out that even an old helmet is better than none at all.
  • Shoes: Mostly for runners, although cyclists should watch for wear as well. The recommendation is to switch shoes every 300-500 miles, depending on how and where you run, how you feel after a run and how the shoes look wear-wise (both soles and uppers). Again, listen to your body… if your legs or feet feel battered post-run or new pain and blisters start showing up, it’s probably time. Cyclists, if you’re fond of long rides, make sure your shoes’ soles are not overly flexible… you’ll notice the difference as the miles mount up (as does your foot pain and fatigue).

One final thought: For bike maintenance and repair, it’s always smart to have a professional looking over your shoulder… unless your DIY skills are on a par with the local bike shop. If so, good… you’ll have to live with the consequences if you miss something. If not, plan a visit to your local bike shop for a routine check-up of your bike at the start of every season. (The same goes for runners if you need a little advice on the next best pair of shoes for you… upgrade from the local shoe store to an actual running shop with people who can look at your old shoes, talk through your issues and give you some good advice.)



A few more events on the horizon, but you’ll have to get through September first.


  • Cops & Joggers 5K, Saturday, Oct. 9, 7:45 p.m., downtown Fort Myers
  • 10K Race for F.I.S.H., Saturday, Oct. 23, Sanibel Island. In-person and virtual
  • Midpoint Madness 5K, Thursday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m., Midpoint Bridge, Fort Myers


  • Gulf to Gulf 80-mile relay, Saturday, Oct. 23, starts and ends at Cambier Park, Naples.
  • 2021 GCR Thanksgiving 5K, Thursday, Nov. 25, 7:30 a.m. Cambier Park, Naples and virtual


  • Naples Rocktoberfest 10K & 5K, Saturday, Oct. 16, North Collier Regional Park, Naples.
  • Naples Distance Classic Half Marathon, 18K & 5K, Saturday, Nov. 13, Eagle Lakes Park, Naples.
  • Thanksgiving Day 5K (two races), Thursday, Oct. 25, Hertz Arena in Estero and The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, Naples. 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. respectively.


  • Run 3 for Joey D 5K, Saturday, Sept. 18, North Collier Regional Park (
  • Average Joe 5K Run (where the person who finishes in the middle wins, along with overall and age group winners), Saturday, Oct. 9, North Collier Regional Park (
  • LRC Hams & Gams 5K Turkey Trot, Saturday Nov. 13, Hendry Complex, LaBelle (
  • Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk, Nov. 20, downtown Fort Myers or


The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar ( for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.

SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up online ( for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).

  • SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers. 
  • Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
  • NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
  • Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
  • Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction..


  • Fort Desoto Triathlon, Sept. 11, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
  • St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) rescheduled to Oct. 1-3, 2021
  • City Island Triathlon, Oct. 10, Sarasota 
  • Spa Girl Tri, Nov. 13, Marco Island, sprint
  • Manasota Key Tri, Nov. 14, Englewood, sprint
  • Over The Hill Tri, Nov. 14, Venice, sprint


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

# # #

Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at


No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.