We’ve all done it. You’ve been out for a ride in filthy weather, made it home in one piece, and you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself. It’s dark and wet so you simply sling your bike in the shed and head indoors for a brew and a bit of TLC. Your bike just sits there in the dark…dripping.
You now have a slim window of opportunity to realise your error, get back out into the cold night, and show your trusty steed a bit of respect by washing, wiping and greasing in all the right places. Your other option is to just sit tight in your house, warm and cosy, and tell yourself that it’ll just drip-dry, that there was plenty of wet lube on the chain to keep it supple, and actually, those mudguards do a great job of catching nearly all the mud and grime the roads throw up. You are kidding yourself, of course.
The longer you leave it, the more the guilt at neglecting your bike will start to nag away at you, and you’ll start to get angry and irrational. You’ll say things like, “I don’t know why I even bother riding the thing in the winter anyway, if I have to spend more time cleaning it than riding it”, and “if the bloody weather hadn’t been so wet and cold I would’ve given it the once over as soon as I got back from my ride.” But that’s the point…you didn’t. And if the weather hadn’t been so bad, the bike wouldn’t have needed a clean in the first place. Your logic is clearly all over the place.
And still, the thought of your poor bike in the shed…slowly seizing up…gnaws away at you.
So you start to reason with yourself. You convince yourself that you were planning to take it all apart and service it anyway, and by leaving it like this you now have the perfect excuse. At this point your wife (or partner) might step in and give you the raised eyebrows; she knows that you are not the take-it-apart-and-service-it type…and more importantly, she knows that you know.
It’s around this time that you poke your head around the shed door and have a little look – see what the damage is. Even without the light on you can see that your chain has taken on a rusty hue, and every exposed part of your machine has a caked layer of grit and grime; you can practically hear it eating away at the frame and it’s component parts. It’s a depressing sight. You grab the bike by the bars and rock it back and forth, and it creaks and groans at you.
And so the time has come to roll up your sleeves and make things right. If you’ve left the bike for a week, you can probably salvage the situation with elbow grease alone. If you’ve left it for a month…you’ll need more than washing-up liquid and a stiff brush.