Continuing on from our Beginner’s Corner article – Riding & Racing on Gravel – You Get Dirty – we thought we would share some quick tips for those who travel to distant events or races – how to clean your rig before the flight or drive home.
Assuming you took a flight or made a road trip to a distant gravel cycling event or race, it is possible your bike may have gotten a wee bit dirty. While mud and crud caked onto one’s frame, components and wheels isn’t detrimental, cleaning your machine sooner versus later always makes the job easier.
This is particularly important if you flew, especially to an event overseas. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is known to open bike cases for inspection, and they don’t need further aggravation dealing with a filthy bike, potentially dragging along soil samples from another country.
So, what to do? One one proven solution, and one unorthodox solution, can get your bike clean enough for travel on a plane, inside or outside a car.
Car Wash – Most modern self-service car washes feature at least one or two bays installed with a powerful jet spray. While the power jet action won’t get your bike absolutely sparkling clean, it will remove most of the crud. Additionally, car washes are cheap. To run the sprayer for a couple of minutes will cost one or two dollars, at least here in the US of A. If you have some paper towels or a rag handy, they can be used for a quick wipe-down of the bike, making your clean-up effort a little tidier.
Avoid directly jet spraying hubs, bottom bracket and headset areas. These areas of the bike contain bearings – while most modern bicycles feature sealed cartridge bearings, even those cannot prevent infiltration of water flung at high speed.
Firstly, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD. This solution is unorthodox and requires the use of a hotel shower / bathroom. It has the potential to be very messy. Because most hotels have a strict policy about trashing a room, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD. We cannot think of any reason to use this method, other than an emergency cleaning just before an international flight with your bike – see our earlier point about soil samples. As such, these steps are only suggestions – the Gravel Cyclist crew has never cleaned a bike using this method.
- Step 1 – Take your bike inside. Hotels are generally fine with bikes being stored inside a hotel room, but if your bike is filthy, probably not. You should probably refer to Solution One before thinking about this.
- Step 2 – Lift and carry your bike to the room – mud on the hallway carpet isn’t cool.
- Step 3 – Load the bike into the shower. Assuming a shower / tub type arrangement, carefully slide the shower curtain aside, lift the bike inside the tub, climb in, and slide the curtain closed.
- Step 4 – Fire up the shower and clean the bike. If the shower head attachment detaches, use it to spray clean most of bike. As in the first solution, use a paper towel or rag to do final wipe-down of the bike.
- Step 5 – Give your filthy cycling kit a quick clean in the shower.
- Remember – WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS METHOD.
We hope these quick and simple cleaning solutions prove helpful. Thanks to Michael Toth of Valrico, Florida (who doesn’t use Solution Two) for suggesting this article.
Thanks for reading!