The ride goes from Saturday 24th November through to Sunday 2nd December. It takes a combination of paved and dirt roads. There are mechanics on hand should your bike malfunction, but there are a few simple things you can go in advance to decrease the chances of that.
Luke, one of our mechanics, worked on the ride for a couple of years and got a sense of the most common issues. He’s also the best person at Commuter to ask about the suitability of different bike setups for the ride – tyre width, gears range required and so on. Here’s a quick guide though.
First off, the most common mechanical problems Luke dealt with on the ride are the most common ones we deal with in the workshop – broken spokes, worn bottom brackets and worn drivetrains. These can all be identified ahead of time and dealt with before you leave on the ride. If your bike is making creaking groaning noises you should get it looked at. It might be a simple thing which can get adjusted straight away, but it might also be an early sign of something malfunctioning. Sometimes getting in early just means replacing the offending component before it inconveniences you on a ride, but sometimes you can nip a problem in the bud before it requires replacement of a part.
If your gears sometimes skip under heavy pedaling then it is certainly wise to get this looked at before you go on a long ride. It can be caused by a number of things, but a worn chain and cogs is one of the most common causes, and once it starts to skip it will quickly get worse. On a harder-than-normal ride you will find that it skips more often because you are putting more force into pedaling and that the skipping will be more annoying, so get it looked at before you head off on the Great Vic.
Likewise, creaks can be caused by any number of different things. One potential cause is a worn bottom bracket – the bearings and axle that connect your cranks to your bike. This part is fairly cheap and easy to replace in a bike shop, but it is very inconvenient if it fails in use. Another potential cause of creaks is loose spokes. Continuing to use a wheel with loose spokes will stress these spokes and lead to premature failure. Again an easier thing to fix in a bike shop than on the road.
If you’re thinking about doing the ride it’s worth dropping in and talking to Luke about bike choice, but here I’ll give a few rough pointers. First of all the terrain is a bit hillier than any you’ll find around Brunswick, so unless you are a fairly strong rider you’ll want a fairly wide gear range. The roads are also rougher so wider tyres are a good idea to soak up the bums and maintain traction. Knobby tyres probably aren’t necessary, and they will slow you down on the roads and make it harder work but if you can fit 30mm or wider tyres in your bike you’ll find it more comfortable.
Because the ride is supported you won’t need to carry very much, but having your sunscreen, snacks, wallet, phone, camera, jacket, etc with you is a good thing, and if you can avoid carrying it on your back that’s an even better thing. A handlebar bag is great for this. It puts all this stuff in easy reach and a good one is waterproof. You should also carry water. The simplest and cheapest way on most bikes is to install bidon cages and carry a couple of water bottles. This way you don’t need a bag with a bladder on your back and the water is always easy to get to. With 1.5 litres carried this way you will only need to refill a couple of times and you won’t be carrying more weight than you need to. A rack and panniers is probably overkill for this ride, though if you already have them you can make them work.