Here are a few tips from a bike hygiene slacker. I don’t love the act of taking care of my bike. I love my bike, and I love going fast. Here are a few things you should do before every race!
Wash your bike. I cannot tell you how many problems go away with a clean bike; and a clean bike is a fast bike! So wash your bike! I lightly hose it off. I then take a few brushes and some soapy water and go over it all. I use a separate brush for anywhere near the drive train. then a give it another light rise. After a few minutes in the Tucson sun I towel dry it and use this opportunity to get any missed dirt off.
Replace your chain! I use a race day chain Ice chain. It is crazy fast, and they re-ice it! What could be better? At a minimum use some lube and clean and lube your drive train. You can buy a chain washer, or run it through a rag a bunch of times. Then add a little of clean lube and lightly dry it off.
Race day wheels. I use DSD. They are a great Tucson company that roll fast! I make sure I have make brakes clean then a dress up my bike with a deep front wheel and a disc. A disc is ALWAYS faster. If this is not an option make sure your wheels are clean!
Hydration. Bottle placement can really aid in aerodynamics. I will say that hydration is more important, so have a system you can use. Beyond that, you want an aero bottle on the frame, and an aero hydration system up front between the bars. Then either one or two bottles behind the seat. All round bottles should be out of sight of the wind. Again, this is if you can. Staying hydrated is infinitely more important!
Bike numbers. They need to be well put on the frame. No wrinkles or waves. If they are on some sort of holder, it needs to be totally secure and inline with the top tube.
Race tires/tubes. Since I have a dedicated set of race wheels this is easy. If not I recommend racing with a specific race day tire. Many companies make a fast race tire. These tires have a low rolling resistance and are light! Here is a resource to find out about them: https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/road-bike-reviews . I also race with latex tubes. They are more supple than butyl and lower rolling resistance.
Tire Pressure. On the same vein, I always check my tire pressure race morning. Tire pressure is a hotly debated topic. I found this resource helpful: http://trstriathlon.com/talking-tires-with-joshua-poertner/ I evaluate the road conditions the day before the race and do my best to make a good guess of what to go with from there.
Nutrition. I am lucky, my Dimond has a “lunch box” for food storage. If your bike does not you must work to get it out of the wind. Gels on the top tube are not the most aero. I recommend some type of after market aero box add on. You can also pre mix your gels in an aero bottle and have one high calorie bottle to sip on throughout the race. No matter what you do, bring fuel! try to bring it as aero as possible!
Helmet. Slightly away from your actual bike is your race helmet. An aero helmet is the most inexpensive way to “buy speed” ideally you would take your bike to a shop and put in on a trainer. Then you can test out a bunch of aero helmets to see which one fits with your position and riding style.
Triple check everything. Most of us train a lot. A bike like anything else, needs maintenance. I like to run through every bolt and make sure it is still tight. If you ride roads like we have in Tucson, you know that things can get rattled around. The last thing you want is a loose bolt on race day. I have had my aerobars land on my front wheel and it is not a pleasant experience!