I was out on a training ride with one of my Podium Training athletes this morning. It wasn't going to be a long ride, this athlete is gearing up for a sprint distance triathlon in a couple months, and I think 16-17 miles was in the cards today. Anyway, all was good - about half way into the ride, and we're picking up the pace a little. My athlete was down in the aero-bars, and we had a nice stretch at tempo pace.
Suddenly: Bonk. My athlete has dropped back on a fairly flat stretch so I start to slow.....slowing some more.... Um, still slowing..... What's going on? We went from a nice pace to maybe 10 mph (not kidding).
I was informed that they just lost their mojo. Okay, no problem, we'll spin easy for the rest of the ride. But as we continued on, even at a slow pace, my athlete was just dragging. Finally, I was informed - while their legs felt like rubber at the moment - that a "rubbing" on the front end of their bike might indeed be coming the brakes. We pulled over and, sure enough, the brake pads were so tight that they were rubbing against the rim of the front wheel. The calipers had the brake pads just about locked down on the rim. I could hardly spin the front wheel when I took a look. No wonder this person was spent - this ride must have felt like doing hill repeats for ten miles.
I did give this person a mild scolding for not checking out their equipment before rolling out that morning. Everyone should do some basic checks on their bike before heading out. Even if it's for a short ride. Spin the wheels: any wobble or brake rubbing? Check the brakes: stopping power is good? Spin the crank arms and shift gears a few times: All shifts are crisp and no issues with the drivetrain? Check the handlebars: Able to turn without cable or headset issues? Tires are inflated and you have spare tube, air / CO2 / tire levers?
All in all this takes about 2 minutes - Max.
Granted, we got a laugh out of it in the end. If this were race day, that would have been one tough bike leg.
More importantly my next concern was about the bike shop that was being frequented for the maintenance on this athlete's bike. I say this as I know it just came back from the shop for a basic tune-up. How could a mechanic, any mechanic, let a bike leave their shop with the brakes adjusted down this tightly? Didn't they check things over once (or twice) before taking the rig off the stand and signing off on the work? I was sort of stunned, as I know what bike shop was used, and I had thought them to be a pretty good place to go. That opinion has changed a bit.
The moral of this story? Always, ALWAYS, check your bike before heading out on a training ride. And, make sure you've got a good mechanic whom you trust at your bike shop.
You can always do what I do once you do find a reputable shop and mechanic: Buy your mechanic a case of excellent micro-brew or craft beer a couple of times a year and make sure you're on a first name basis with the entire staff by doing the same. It does wonders when you need a quick tweak on your rear derailleur and it's a busy Saturday at the bike shop.