This article is from the Misc Bicycles FAQs, by various authors.
Is your bike ready for the ride? Should you use a particular bike for
You don't need to go out and buy a $2000 bike (or even a $500 road
bike) to ride a century. A century REALLY can be comfortably ridden
on a mountain bike or a hybrid. Slick narrow tires are available for
26 inch wheels. I wouldn't recommend using 2 inch knobbies on a
century, but I'd ride a mountain bike with 1.25 inch slicks without a
second thought. I would also probably add some sort of bar ends to
increase hand positions if I only had flat bars.
Now to get the bike ready. Make sure the tires are in good shape and
inflated to full pressure. Check the brakes to see that they are
properly lined up and work as expected. (Are the quick releases
closed?) Make sure your shifting is working smoothly. Adjust indexing
if necessary. See FAQ for more details on these adjustments.
Is every bolt tight? Check the water bottle cages, rack, fenders,
handlebars, pedals, etc. While doing this make notes about what
tools, especially sizes, you need to work on the bike.
Check the bottom bracket, headset and wheels. Grab the pedals and try
to move them side to side. If you detect motion, your bottom bracket
might be loose. Holding the front brake on, try to move the
handlebars. If you feel motion, your headset may be loose. Spin the
wheel and watch the rim relative to a brake pad, does it stay the same
distance from the rim? If not, your wheels are out of true.
Check your spare tube. Will it hold air. Some tubes, fresh out of the
box may be defective. Check the tube of glue in your patch kit. If
it has been opened, it may be all dried up. It's no fun to be on the
side of the road with a flat, a tube that won't hold air and a patch
kit with no glue.
Clean out your water bottles. Rinse the bottles out thoroughly with
bleach, and then rinse the bleach out. Standing water, and energy
drinks can cause icky things to grow in your bottles over time.
Keeping them clean may save you serious stomach ailments on a ride. I
also find that adding just a little lemon juice makes warm water go
down easier. A clean wet sock on the water bottle will help keep the
water inside cooler for longer.
If you aren't used to working on your own bike, it's probably a good
idea to take your bike into a shop for an overhaul/checkup. Tell them
you are planning to do a century, and want the bike ready for the
ride. Have this done at least a week before the big ride, so you will
have time to get botched repairs corrected. Shops can and do make
It is not a good idea to make major modifications to the bike the
day before the ride. This is not the time to try look pedals and
change your seat height drastically. If you are planning to make
changes, do this well in advance of the event, so that you have
plenty of time to get used to them. (Do as I say, not as I do:)
Learn to make minor repairs. Everyone should know how to fix a flat.
If you don't, ask someone to show you. Someone at the shop should
be willing, when things aren't too busy. Ask them to also show you
how to adjust the derailleurs for sloppy indexed shifting and how
to prevent overshifting out of cogs.