There’s more to cycling season than hopping on a bike

he cycling season suffered a delay last week; heavy snow kept all but the most diehard riders off their bikes.

he cycling season suffered a delay last week; heavy snow kept all but the most diehard riders off their bikes.

The white stuff will eventually disappear though, and before you put on your brain bucket and hit the road or trail, there are a few things to consider.

“Be careful pulling your bike out of the ice or snow,” said bike mechanic Philippe LeBlond. “That can damage your tires …  they might even be rotten.”

 Of course, he recommends storing bikes inside, but he knows that’s not always a possibility.

“The elements aren’t great for your bike; make sure your chain and cables aren’t rusted away,” he said.

 “If you’re not sure, it’s worth it to get professionals like Icycle, Philippe or myself to check it over,” said the Bike Fix-it Chick, Jennifer Grantham, who is working through the busiest time of the year, awash in bikes in need of some TLC.

 “In the springtime there’s enough work for three or four guys,” said LeBlond, who works alone.

He took in more than 50 bikes during his grand opening two weeks ago. (He’s currently looking for an extra pair of hands.)

The weekend’s heavy snowfall slowed things down, which is a mixed blessing as “it gives me a chance to catch up,” he said.

Grantham is in the same predicament: “Everybody always asks, ‘Can I have it finished overnight?’” she said. “But I’m swamped; I work till 2 a.m.”

Anyone in the market for a new bike may be surprised by what is available these days. Hydraulic disc brakes, lockout shocks, freeriding bikes that start at $1,600.

It’s definitely not your grandfather’s Raleigh.

“It’s a really fashion-driven industry; it’s pretty crazy actually, especially at the higher end,” said LeBlond. “Shocks are great, don’t get me wrong, but people are often just wasting energy bouncing up and down.”

That led to lockouts, which limit the amount of bounce in a shock.

“A few years ago, you couldn’t get a shock with a lockout on it for under $800,” he said. “Now you can get a whole bike with them included for under $700.”

Once you get yourself geared up, there are countless trails, vast stretches of road, and plenty of jumps and obstacles all over town. Early riding season is plagued by gravel on the roads, however, so keep an eye out for it.

If you don’t feel like riding alone, there are plenty of events to get involved with this season.

In fact, Velonorth’s mountain bike series gets underway tonight with The Icebreaker, a poker race (collect a card after each lap, the rider with the best hand wins the pot).

Meet at the Schwatka Lake boat launch at 6 p.m. Sign up as a Velonorth member and all races are $2.

If mountain biking isn’t your thing, there are also road trials and freeriding sessions all season, with the highlight Tour de Whitehorse in July.

Check out www.velonorth.ca for more information.

One of the Yukon’s biggest events, the 14th Annual Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay, is just two months away.

The race is back to its regular third Saturday of June schedule, the 17th. Get training and get your team together to take advantage of the $51 per person early bird fee.

The price goes up to $65 per person on May 17.

“Teams are encouraged to sign up sooner than later,” said organizer Mike Young. “Not including last year, we have hit our 1,200 rider cap for five years straight.” A full race is anticipated again this year.

Registrations need to be completed online at www.kcibr.org.

Teams looking for more riders, lonely riders looking for a team, or general inquiries can be directed to Mike Young at 334-6871 or send an email to info@kcibr.org

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