Riding, maintenance and repair tips for cyclists

Dealing with bicycle issues

This is the second part in a series on bicycle riding, maintenance and repairs.

Here is a point-form summary with tips from Garry Norkum, owner of Cyclepath in Kelowna, which has offered free bicycle riding and maintenance clinics for several years (plus a few from the Sheriff).

First up is how to get as comfortable as possible on your bike or e-bike.

• Depending on the manufacturer, bike frames can come in as many as five sizes, measured from the centre of the crank to the top of the tube where you insert the seat post. The bicycle-guider.com website says there are seven ways to measure a bike. The simplest method to determine the correct frame is using your height to determine a hybrid bike size:

• Four feet 11 inches to five feet three inches = 13 to 15 inches

• Five feet three inches to five feet seven inches = 15 to 16 inches

• Five feet seven inches to five feet 11 inches = 16 to 17 inches

• Six feet to six feet two inches = 17 to 19 inches

• Six feet two inches to six feet four inches = 19 to 21 inches

• Six feet four inches and taller = 21-plus inches.

Keep in mind, these are general guidelines, but one bike size wrong can make a huge difference.

• Raising the stem that holds the handlebars will shift more weight from your hands to your bum. Road racers can use a small narrow saddle because they bend over placing a lot of their weight on their hands. When you sit more upright, you are more likely to need a larger saddle. A bigger seat is not necessarily better, though, because it depends on your “sitbones.” Feel how far apart they are with your thumb and forefinger, hold that distance and see if it matches the soft parts of your prospective new seat.

Some stems are adjustable (about $25 and $30) and saddles can be as inexpensive as $35 to $45. Those are usually the two major items that shops change. You can also switch out handlebars, raising your hands even higher.

• Most saddles are mounted on a rail so they can be adjusted back and forth as well as angled. A level can be used to ensure the saddle is perfectly flat. Saddles with a slot or soft spot in the middle eliminate pressure on that part of the body.

• Too many cyclists have their saddles adjusted too low. A half-inch can be critical. If you raise your toes with your leg straight while seated, your heel should clear the pedal as you swing the leg forward, says Norkum. When riding, your knees should be slightly bent when your foot is at the lowest part of the pedal stroke.

• If your saddle is too high, you can have hip issues. Your bum will rock back and forth sideways, says Norkum.

• Once your saddle is at the correct height, scratch the post next to the quick release to mark the spot. Magic Marker wears off.

• Tubes are porous, so they leak. Check tire pressure regularly—hybrids once a week, road tires every two to four days.

• Tire levers are only used to remove the edge of a tire. Use them opposite the valve stem and slip the hook end under a spoke.

• Once a flat tube is removed, the hole found and marked (tire still on rim), place the tube valve next to the valve hole in the rim. Cup your hand over the tube outside the tire tread and slide your hands and tube around the tire and rim until you get to the marked hole in the tube. That's where (on the tire) you will hopefully find whatever caused the flat, eg. A nail, glass or, especially in the South Okanagan, a cactus thorn or puncture vine barb. Feel with your fingers inside the tire as well to see if the puncture-producer is there.

• The inside of rims have rim strips that separate the tube from the ends of the spokes. However, strips can shift and wear out so check them when you repair a flat or replace a worn tire.

• When using a new tube, inflate it slightly, which makes it easier to insert under the tire.

• If you push the edge of the tire deep into the rim, you can usually roll the last bit of tire edge onto the rim with both your hands, all the way around, without using the tire levers. If you leave the tire out in the sun for 10 minutes, it becomes more pliable.

• Don't use the ends of your fingers to roll the tire back onto the rim, use the palms of your hands. You'll have more power to roll it onto the rim. If the last bit of tire edge doesn't want to go over the rim, press with your hands along the opposite side of the tire, pull and stretch the rubber tire like an elastic band.

• If the valve is crooked after inflating, let a little air out and move the tire around the rim enough to straighten the valve out. As well, when a tube is under-inflated, the tire can move around and make the valve crooked.

• Always use both brakes. Remember right rear. Same with shifters—right rear. Don't lock up the front brake, especially when coming downhill. Instead, push your weight to the rear and use more rear brake. Front brakes produce more braking power (try it on your bike).

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


With bicycle riding season here, it's time for riding, maintenance and repairs tips

Bicycle tips 101

The 2024 bike riding season is already well underway, thanks to recent record-breaking temperatures.

But newbies, and even those with some experience, always have questions (and challenges). Free bike clinics offered in recent weeks at Cyclepath in Kelowna had many of the answers.

The spring clinics actually started before coronavirus restrictions on large groups when owner Garry Norkum invited members of the Okanagan Slow and Steady Hikers (Meetup.com) to a series of free clinics at his 2169 Springfield Road business.

COVID brought a temporary halt but clinics resumed as soon as restrictions were lifted.

Here is a point-form summary of tips from Norkum for bike riding, maintenance and repair (plus a few from the Sheriff). First up, the confusing business of gearing.

• The best pedalling cadence is at least 60 strokes (or revolutions) per minute, at least once per second. The goal is to choose a gear from many gears that will maintain the same workload on your body—not the same speed—regardless of the terrain, whether you are going up or down hills.

"It's better for the bike. It's better for your knees. It’s better for your body. And it works much more efficiently," says Norkum.

• Most cyclists don't pedal fast enough. The key when approaching and starting to climb up a hill is to downshift before pedalling becomes too difficult. Avoid shifting under load because your chain can come off or snap. When approaching a hill, downshift, downshift, downshift.

The following information is generally speaking for regular bikes with multiple gear sprockets or chainrings on the front, usually three, i.e. 24-speed. Many e-bikes have only one sprocket on the front.

• You are probably going to use the middle gear (of a three-ring chainring) on the front most of the time, going up and down on a seven-, eight- or nine-ring cassette on the rear wheel. To remember which shifter is which—right rear. It's the same for brake levers.

• You may not realize it but there is duplication in your gearing, thanks to the three sprockets on the front. So, the reality is there are about 12 to 15 usable gear combinations on a 24-speed bike, says Norkum. Having three sprockets or chainrings at the front and eight at the back doesn't provide 24 different gear ratios. If you upshift once in the front and downshift once at the back, you will produce the same gear ratio.

• In addition, some combinations, such as using the smallest sprocket or chainring at the front and the two smallest at the back, means the chain will be at a large angle with lots of wear and noise. In fact, it would be the same combination when using the middle chainring on the front with a middle chainring at the back producing minimal wear and noise.

• To minimize the angle of the chain between the front and rear sprockets, when using the low gear in the front, stay in the lower half of the rear gears (the large rings). When you are using the high gear in the front, use the top half of the rear gears.

It can be confusing because the small gear in the front (No. 1 or “granny” gear) is for easy low speed and the large gear (No. 3) is for high speed. In the rear, it is the reverse. The small gear goes very fast for high speed and large gear goes slow for lower speed.

• You can also use a gear change technique called "overshoot" by pushing the gear change lever on the handlebar past its usual switch point which snaps the chain onto the next gear ring, says Norkum.

• Some bikes have gear-number displays on the handlebars but you don't need them.

"Shift by feel," says Norkum, by trying to maintain that spin or cadence of at least 60 revolutions per minute. If pedalling gets more difficult, shift to a lower (easier) gear. If pedalling get easier, shift to a higher gear.

• It should be easy to pull your shoes out of toeclips if you use them. You are physically restrained with those equipped with straps and can/will fall over with a sudden stop. Everyone who uses them has fallen over at some point. It's not only embarrassing but painful.

• All metal pedals, especially those with raised bumps, are better than plastic pedals which can be slippery.

• The ball of your foot (wide part at the front) should be over the pedal.

• When removing the rear tire and rim from the bike to repair a leak or change a tire, it is easier (the chain will be looser) if the chain is on the smallest gear at the front and the smallest gear at the rear. Then, you know you will place the chain back on the smallest gear of the rear cassette when the tire or rim is mounted back on the bike.

First, undo the axle quick-release and unscrew the axle so it's loose. On some bikes, unscrew and remove the entire axle. Put it where its grease won't get dirty or spread somewhere unintended.

Pull the derailleur or gear-change mechanism to the rear as you slide the tire and rim out and then back into the axle slots on the frame. The bracket on rim brakes (not disc brakes) must be undone to get the tire and rim on and off. Don't forget to re-tighten the bracket and check that its brake pads are aligned properly with the rim. Toe in pads slightly can reduce or eliminate squealing.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Season ending wrap-up events planned at SilverStar

Season ending at ski hills

Winter conditions returned briefly to Southern Interior ski hills this week but the clock is ticking on the 2023-24 season.

This column, with a cold-weather theme, focuses on the remaining few weeks of skiing, boarding and snowshoeing at downhill resorts and cross-country ski areas, which are wrapping things up with a flurry of activities.

SilverStar Mountain Resort hosts the Seismic Spring Mountain Festival from March 29 to April 7, the final 10 days of the season.

"Saturday, March 30 is Retro Day, so bust out your retro gear and come slide down the slopes in style,” says Megan Sutherland, the resort's communications and PR specialist. “Plus, finish off the day with our official apres-kick-off of Seismic with SkiiTour, playing in the village from 3:30 p.m. until late.”

Sunday, March 31 will full of events with free music on the Nokian Tyre Community Stage, with headline act, Atyya.

“We also have our on-mountain and in-village Easter scavenger hunts. Hunt for clues to eggs around the mountain. There will be two hunts: one for children five and under (Tot Hunt) and one throughout the mountain for kids six and over (all ages), added Sutherland.

On April 1, you can search the mountain to possibly win a new set of winter tires in the Green Tire Giveaway.

On April 2, the Seismic series will bring a fun-filled evening with a pressed flower workshop hosted by Enchanted Florists & Design Co. Their creative team will provide all the necessary materials including dried flowers and other natural elements while sharing their expert tips and tricks to help you design your masterpiece.

On April 3, Vaz Art! will host a creative and fun painting night, including a complimentary beverage and on April 4, Train Wreck Comedy presents one of Canada’s top stand-up comedians, John Beuhler, at the National Altitude Training Centre.

The Seismic Spring Queening will go April 3-7, combining all the resort's terrain parks and moving their features to Silver Queen run for five days of hits and tricks. April 5 will be Pop-up Park Challenges, where you can win Park Bucks as prizes.

April 6 will have Monster Park Challenges. The Monster Rail Challenge involves "cleaning" the 92-foot Monsterrail for cash and prizes by performing the best trick, plus the Box-zilla Challenge on the giant Box-zilla feature.

Also on April 6, there’ll be a day of live music including The Jazz Temptations at noon, Petunia and The Vipers at 1 p.m., Post Modern Collective at 3 p.m. and headliner, daysormay, at 4 p.m.

The signature sporting event on April 6 and 7 will pair SilverStar and Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre cross country trails for the third annual Sovereign2SilverStar Ski Marathon, a point-to-party event with two of everything—two styles (classic and free), two distances each day (21 kilometres and 42 kilometres) and the two ski areas (start at Sovereign Lake and finish on Main Street in SilverStar’s village).

On April 7, to wrap up the season, SilverStar will host a free winter season pass holder BBQ.


Today is the last day that Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre is selling some of its rental skis to make room for updated equipment. There are classic and skate skis in a variety of sizes but limited quantities. All revenue will help buy new gear for children's programs. Nordiq Canada is matching funds raised up to $5,000. You can test the skis before purchase.

Sun Country Cycle, a gold sponsor of Sovereign Lake this year, is holding a special draw for SLNC members through April 8. If you spend more than $10 in-store, your name will be entered to win a Thule XTR Pro 2 bike rack worth $999. Draw prize participants must show their season pass.

You can submit one receipt per day and there is no limit on entries.


And the final nostalgic word comes from Nickel Plate Nordic Centre.

"That’s a wrap," said GM Tricia Wilson and Kevin Dyck, marketing and communications manager, in a joint summary.

"It’s a bittersweet time of year up here. After spending the last five months pretty consistently working on and off the mountain, most of us are looking forward to a break. But, by the same token, we’re going to miss it too.”

"Earlier in the season, I was driving up to work on Green Mountain Road and I thought to myself, 'I hope I never have to do real work again.' It was a nice conclusion to realize that although NPNC is all-consuming during the winter, there are often times when it just doesn’t feel like 'work. We get to come up the mountain, see everyone’s smiling faces, joke with visitors and coworkers, and spend time in one of the most magical places in the Okanagan," said Wilson.

"This season, in particular, was bolstered by the amazing community we have up here. Financially, it has been a tough one, but there’s so much support and positivity at the centre that it made it feel okay. To all of our wonderful staff, our school instructors, the board of directors, the members and volunteers, the out-of-town visitors and everyone who made the trek up the mountain, thank you for being there this year. The way the staff rallied to fill shifts and roll with the punches was magnificent."

The snow held up well to end the season with the objective to make today the last day. "But we might be able to squeeze out a bonus weekend so stay tuned," said Dyck.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


Still plenty of fun to be had at regional ski hills

Late season skiing

Spring skiing arrived at Southern Interior ski hills this week, thanks to sunshine and warm temperatures.

However, there is still lots of snow and several weeks to enjoy a wide variety of end-of-season special events and deals.

Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre will end the season with two spectacular events:

• March 30, 4 p.m.— The inaugural Tails on Trails Skijoring event, in partnership with Pooch Partners. Registration is limited to 25 teams of one person and one pooch. If you have any questions about skijoring, and whether you and your teammate might be ready for it, contact Shelly at: [email protected]. If you’re interested in finding out more about skijoring, go to the Pooch Partners website. Cost/registration: $30 plus GST (plus $10 plus GST if not a member of SLNC.) The format is an interval start with two category levels: “Breathe Hard” and “Just Dog It”. The route is the stadium to Woodland Bell and back to the stadium.

• April 6-7: Sovereign2Silverstar Ski Marathon. Classic technique (40k and 21k) on April 6 and skate technique (40k and 21k) on April 7. The S2S start is at Sovereign Lake and the finish in SilverStar Village. It is one of the biggest ski marathons in North America with 800 participants expected. The event includes a movie night at 6:30 p.m. on April 6 in SilverStar Village with some of the best mountain films, thanks to the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and a silent auction in the Chilcoot Conference Centre, organized by S2S with Sovereign Lake and SilverStar. It has more than $15,000 in donations from generous sponsors with 50% of the proceeds to partner charity, Kidsport Vernon, which received $19,500 in donations during the past two years.

Donations include a VO2 master portable analyzer, a package for two with flights and accommodation for the Yukon Ski Lodge, and a Fischer Speedmax ski package.

There are age awards in categories for every five years, club championships, and prize money for the elite and competitive athletes. S2S is also the grand finale to the Pacific Northwest Loppet series. To register or learn more, go to sovereign2silverstar.com or email [email protected] or [email protected].

Sovereign Lake's last day of the season will be April 8.


"Spring is here at SilverStar with beautiful bluebird conditions," says Megan Sutherland, the resort's communications and PR specialist. "We have snow, sun and blue skies making for amazing skiing and riding. Our March Meltdown Sale continues until the end of the month with up to 50% off apparel and you can go into the draw to win a $250 gift card when you spend $250 or more. We have some great deals on ex-rental ski and snowboards. Pop into our rental shop and chat with our friendly rentals team members to get yourself some new gear."


Big White Ski Resort is offering ticket deals to end the season.

POWder Card spring sale: Choose between three-day and five-day flex options for the best savings of the season at $109 per day.

• Turn and Learn Friday Nights: Save 50% off Friday Night beginner tickets from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Friday. Pro instructors with the Big White ski and board school will teach the essentials, including stopping and changing direction, near the Happy Valley Day Lodge.

• March 19-20, the inaugural Women's Ski/Snowboard camp. Ski and board school staff will offer instruction on technique, confidence and control in three-hour group lessons, including lunch. Open to all skill levels.


At Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, today's planned spring Loppet has been postponed to 2025.

"After a successful run of social events this season, we seem to have stalled out," says Kevin Dyck, marketing and communications manager.

"But that’s OK. Next year, we’ll be even more on the ball and have things booked. Due to a few factors, not the least of which being the weather forecast, we will postpone the spring loppet for a season. And the last in our speakers’ series lunches on March 10 was also postponed to next season."

On a positive note, the annual Making Tracks fundraiser has collected $13,390 of this year's $15,000 goal toward the planned $50,000 purchase of a new set of tracks for the groomer.

"To sum it up, our grant application for a new groomer was rejected this year. So we need to buckle down to make some necessary repairs," said Dyck. The link to donate is here.

"While the forecast looks fantastic for those of us eager to get on bikes, it’s less fantastic for the ski season which looks like it’s rapidly coming to an end."

Nickel Plate planned to operate as normal up to, and including, March 17, he said. "After the 17th, we’re going to play it by ear (for) March 18 to March 22. If we still have snow good enough to groom and ski, we’ll groom for sure March 22 and 23. We’ll announce any changes on the snow report on our website. After the 17th, check it each day if you’re thinking of coming up."


The e-snowmobile at Telemark Nordic Club now has a name.

"We had 64 unique and thoughtful suggestions from kids and older kids alike. We narrowed down the choices to nine finalists—Buzz, Jaws, Scoob-e Ski Doo, Snow-e, Sparky, Telespark, Usain Volt, White Lightning and Zippy," said GM Mike Edwards.

After votes were tallied, the clear favourite was Scoob-e Ski Doo or Scoob-e for short. Honourable mention for inventive and unique names went to Course Whisperer, as well as the finalists Usain Volt and Teluspark.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Making Tracks articles

About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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