March typically is the time when Valley cyclists decide the rubber truly needs to hit the road. The freak graupel and semi-regular showers are a more or less a thing of the past until the summer monsoon blows back into town, the mornings are a little less chilly, and the riding is free to commence.
Nothing rings in the spring riding season better than a fresh set of upgrades. But if a refreshed rig is not incentive enough to get you spinning, there are a few rides and events out there this March to give you the urge to turn a blissful pedal.
Any regularly ridden bicycle gets its fair share of wear and tear. Throw in the debris-ridden roadways and razor-sharp rocks and cactus spines strewn along the trails throughout the Valley and Arizona bikes demand regular upkeep to stay riding right. And if you replace worn parts before they outright break, it'll make you feel like you're riding a brand new bike.
Parts that should be replaced at least once a year, preferably in the spring, include chains and tires, quite possibly the two most valuable cheap parts on a bike. Chains stretch over the course of a year and as they stretch they begin to eat into the chainrings and gear clusters cause potential major damage. If you ride regularly at all and haven't changed out a chain in the past year, head down to your local bike shop to have your chain checked. Most chains cost $30 to $60.
Tires are another part that wears down no matter how well you care for your bike. Like car tires, it's good to rotate and change them out based on wear. Keep in mind that the rear tire will always wear down faster because that's where the weight is, so rotating through the tires to extend life is a good thing. But don't simply look for tread wear, also check the sidewalls for rot and regularly look over the entire skin for cuts and imbedded objects such as glass or wire. Tires can run a wide price range but expect to drop around $80 for a good pair.
Another part update that can suddenly make a life-changing difference in bike performance are shifter and break cables. Like the chain, these cables stretch and even start breaking or getting blocked with dirt and grime inside the casings. While cables don't require an annual change, they are more often overlooked or forgotten than checked. Just know a new set of quality cables will run about $20, a steal compared to the upgrade.
And never underestimate the beauty of new grips or grip tape to kick off a season. You will be amazed at how this simple change makes a bike look new again. Bar tape will set you back less than $20, while grips for the flat bars can cost a smidge more.
Now that the ride has been rebooted, it's time to get out in the world. March features a few events that should get the juices flowing again.
On March 9, the Tempe Bicycle Action Group shows how to rock more than one handlebar at a time as they roll out with their annual Mustache Ride. The social ride will gather in Tempe Beach Park at 7:30 p.m. and then head off to an assortment of local taverns to display their nose whiskers doffed in froth.
For those looking to actually put some longer miles on the ground, the 2013 Tour de Cure 100 mile ride for the American Diabetes Association rolls out on March 16 from the REACH 11 Sports Complex in Deer Valley. The course rolls across the north Valley, heading west to Vistancia before winding back and north to Anthem and east to Carefree before rolling back down to the sports complex.
Registration is $15 but the Tour de Cure does also have a $175 per person minimum fundraising entry fee, and riders can sign up as an individual or as part of a team. If 100 miles is a touch on the long sing, rest easy as the event also supports distances of 8, 35, 62, or 80 miles.
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On March 20, the Arizona High School Cycling League is hosting premiere showings of "Singletrack High," an inside look at a season in the life of high school mountain bike student-athletes from Northern California. The film explores the positive impact high school mountain biking can have on boys and girls alike, from all walks of life, as their lives revolve around weekend rides, but now with a finish line.
Exclusive screenings of this movie will begin at 7 p.m. at the Harkins Tempe Marketplace and the Harkins Arrowhead Fountains theaters. Ticket sales benefit the Arizona League with proceeds supporting their mission of providing safe, quality high school mountain bike programs for student-athletes and teams from public, charter and private schools throughout the state.