• Quick-clean your bike using a damp cloth. Remove the layer of dust and grime from the frame, rims, derailleurs, brakes, handlebars…okay, just clean everything. “Do the chain and chain rings with an old toothbrush and soapy water or a degreaser,” advises Bicycling contributing editor Matt Allyn.
• Inspect the tires by deflating the tube to about half its pressure. While rotating the wheel, slowly manipulate each tire in your hands to expose cuts in the sidewalls or tread. If you find any deep cuts, replace the tire. If the tires look fine, inflate them to the recommended PSI (it’s listed on the sidewall).
• “Check the indicator line on the brake pads to see if they need to be replaced,” advises Allyn. If they're worn down, head to the local bike shop for new ones.
• Take two minutes to remove the seatpost from the frame. It can bond to it permanently unless you do this on occasion. Wipe the seatpost clean, then smear a little grease on the part that fits into the frame.
• Spin the wheels to see if they’re running crooked. If you see any wobbling, or hear strange rattles or clinks, make an appointment to take the wheel to the bike shop. (Go midweek; weekends are busy this time of year.)
• “Wear your most comfortable bike shorts, and take a shorter ride than you normally would the first week or two,” says Allyn. “Your butt will need a couple rides to get used to your saddle.”
• Sign up for a local century (100-mile) ride on BikeReg.com. Schedule one for at least 10 weeks away to give yourself a great goal. For a century training plan, visit Bicycling.com
• Consider hiring a coach if you think you may need a little more motivation this spring, or you really want to get fit and fast. You can find a coach near you through Usacycling.org.
• If you're a first-time cyclist or haven't been in the saddle for quite a while, read Rodale.com's story on starting a cycling program. Also check out their tips for commuting by bicycle.