Pump it Up & Dental Care for Triathletes

It’s been another cold recovery week, which surprised and dismayed me. The cold lingered longer than I ever expected. Will start my workout again tomorrow morning, a whole TWO WEEKS from my last one, and then I have the 15K Shamrock Run.

I did manage to make it to the last Portland Triathlon Club meeting and learned a lot of bicycle tips that I’m going to share. Also some info on sports drinks and dental health.

Bicycle Tips

Some basic bike maintenance tips will both improve your rides and keep your bike in great operating condition for years and year!

Tori Bortman of Gracie’s Wrench held a Bike Maintenance Basics Clinic prior to the meeting and went over what you should clean and check after every ride. I’ll share what she told us, as I had never been taught any of this and had been doing some things wrong, that could damage my bike components!


  • Spray frame with a citrus-based cleaner or Simple Green and wipe with a rag. Do NOT spray with jet of water from a hose any harder than “what comes out of your grandma’s watering can”, as this spray can enter your bearing chases, along with road grime.


  • Clean your rims with a dry rag about every 100 miles. This is not only to get dirt or water off, but to remove brake dust. The dark grime on the rims is generally rubber dust which actually works as a lubricant if you leave on your rims, and even worse if mixes with water. If left on your rims it can coat your brake pads, like a shellac, and decrease your ability to brake even further.

Drive Train

  • Clean and lubricate your chain about every 100 miles. Use a chain oil that is a combination cleaner/lubricant…NEVER use WD-40 to oil your chain, it’s a solvent only and will cause damage!! Tori recommends ATB (stands for Absolutely The Best) Lube (available at bike shops) and noted that they manufacture different lubricant/solvent mix for different regions due to different conditions, so the blend you buy in Bend will be slightly different than the blend you buy in Portland—interesting!
  • Leave the chain on the drive gear and apply lubricant/cleaner from top, then bottom while cranking the pedals, then wipe all sides of the chain with a rag. Note: your goal is not to have oil in the open section of the chain that slips over the gear cogs, but in the little articulating surfaces between the links.
  • Clean/lube the pivot points on the derailleur except the pulleys once a week, more if riding in wet conditions.
  • Cassette (rear wheel gear stack) should be cleaned once a week. Do to this, remove the wheel from the bike and “floss” between the gears with a solvent covered rag (this IS where you use WD-40!) but do NOT spray solvent directly on the cassette, only on the rag, as you risk spraying solvent into bearing chases.


This was fascinating to me! I have always used the tire pressure indicated on the sidewall of my tires, thus 120 psi front and back. The sidewall inflation is a figure determined by the manufacturer by inflating a tire on a test rim, off a bike, until it blows off the rim, and then they take that number and cut it in half for the safe operating pressure!

Tori shared information she learned from the Randonneuring community (ultra-distance cycling), that your tire inflation should be based upon your weight and that you need more surface area contacting the ground than what the general tire inflation on the sidewall gives you. Most people do not require as much pressure at noted, in fact, she uses 85 psi on the front and 90 psi on the back. Please check out these links on how to determine the optimal inflation pressure for you and the science behind it, way better than me trying to summarize it!



Decreasing her tire pressures has increased her speed and eliminated “rock pinging” (throwing rocks laterally) while riding.

Check your sidewall for correct tread direction and wear/cuts.


Check pad wear when you clean your rims, remove any grit or rocks. Replace if shiny or worn. Check your rims and pads if you have metal shavings in your brakes, you probably picked up a rock in your brake pad and cut a little groove in your rims.


  • Keep cable stops clean and debris-free.
  • Check your derailleur hanger alignment—this is critical if you drop your bike on the cassette or crash. Your derailleur should be the same distance away from your wheel from top to bottom—if not, you risk your derailleur moving your chain completely off the largest gear on the stack into your spokes, causing a catastrophic crash! Unequal distance between your derailleur and wheel indicates that you have bent, or most likely cracked the mounting on your frame for your derailleur. Some mountings are replaceable, some are built into your frame. Take your bike in to a repair shop for derailleur issues!


Lubricate springs occasionally with oil.

Gracie’s Wrench does offer basic bicycle repair/tune up courses. Check their website for details!

Sports Drinks and Dental Health

So looking at icky mouths is not my favorite thing, but one of our club members, Ryan Voge, DMD, from Downtown Dental Associates, is a dentist and did a presentation on dental health of athletes, which started with a game “Meth Mouth or Triathlete Mouth?“…really, there were some similar examples. I don’t have the pics to share, you can use your imagination…blech.

Those sports drinks, gels, and gummies can wreck havoc on your teeth!

The big thing I learned from this was how most Sports Drinks, like Gatorade and others are just as damaging to our teeth as sodas and most gels and gummies can be even more so. Sports drinks and gels/gummies are sugary and acidic, two things that contribute to plaque, dissolve enamel, and create an optimum environment for bacterial growth that lead to gum disease; gels and gummies are worse in that they are viscous and sticky and remain in the mouth longer than liquid drinks. Triathletes are at a greater risk because the events last hours and if you sip sports drinks every 15 minutes or so your mouth has a constant sugary, acidic level. There are a couple of things you can do to lessen your risk:

  1. Follow your sip of sports drink, gel, or gummy with water, swishing it around your mouth before swallowing.
  2. Use sports drinks with Xylitol or Stevia for sweeteners. Both of these sweeteners are natural and do not have the same effect on your mouth as sugar, glucose, or other sugar-based sweeteners. Xylitol is even better in that it actually inhibits bacterial growth in your mouth! I seem to remember Mother Superior telling my about xylitol years ago when she worked in the dental office… The drawback, it can have a laxative effect if taken in large amounts, so watch the amount you use to prevent the dreaded trots…. It’s also toxic to dogs, so keep it away from fido.

Hammer Nutrition’s HEED is one sports drink containing xylitol.

Well that’s all for now….talk to you after the Shamrock Run!

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