Deep Cleaning My Bike

May 8, 2021
40.44 miles

An Unfortunate Encounter with Precipitation

On Tuesday (May 4)1, I had some time before class. Seeing that the rain wasn’t supposed to start for another few hours, I decided to go out for a quick ~20 mile loop around the city. Unfortunately, only a few miles into the trip, I found that I had been deceived by the weather app—it began absolutely pouring, and I had to seek shelter under a bridge.

There was another poor cyclist stuck under the bridge. When the downpour subsided a bit, he decided to head back home. Being slightly foolhardy, I decided to continue my ride, banking on the weather not turning too bad very soon.

This turned out to be correct, and I had an okay ride afterward; I tried out a new route back home after doing my usual counterclockwise loop of the Pittsburgh peninsula; this time, I went north from Hazelwood and into Squirrel Hill, before taking Forbes back to campus. There’s a nontrivial ~0.8 mile climb on Hazelwood to contend with, but the rest of the route is surprisingly flat (by Pittsburgh standards, at least).

I Clean up Nicely

After the ride, I had a bit of a problem: riding in the rain had left some nasty gunk in my drivetrain. My bike was due for some cleaning anyway, so I figured: why don’t I give it a deep cleaning?

I didn’t do a full disassembly (and I don’t even have a chain whip/cassette tool), but I did take off the wheels and chain, and I meticulously scrubbed every bit of the bike off. I manually wiped off every single link of the chain, before applying a drop of lubricant to each link. I scrubbed my cassette until it was rather shiny (not quite like new, but close enough from afar). I wiped down each individual tooth on my chain ring and jockey wheels.

Bicycle chain
My chain after being cleaned. Okay, it’s not perfectly shiny, but you have to admit that it’s pretty good. (full resolution)

To clean the frame, one would typically use a garden hose, but I live in an apartment, so this isn’t feasible. I instead had to resort to washing the frame off in the shower! This actually wasn’t too bad, since sans wheels, carbon frames are fairly light and small.

It was definitely a bit of a pain to clean my bike, but I also enjoyed the experience of getting to work on my own bicycle.


Being the proud owner of a newly cleaned bike, I figured that it was only right that I go out for a proper ride to show it off properly. I had to wait for the perfect weather—there was no way I was going to immediately get the bike dirty again by riding on wet roads. On Saturday, the perfect opportunity presented itself, and I set out on a largely familiar route, my go-to northeast loop of Pittsburgh. This route is typically a little under 40 miles in length, but this time I added in the extra section through Hazelwood and Squirrel Hill, which brought the total distance up to a little above 40 miles. There’s a decent ~3000 feet of elevation gain. I can see this becoming my default route in the future.

The ride itself wasn’t that eventful, but I got some decent pictures in rather scenic locations, which made all the effort to do a deep cleaning worth it.

Bicycle in a field Bicycle in a field Bicycle on a bridge
Isn’t she beautiful? I’ve already taken so many “conventional” bike photos that I thought it might be nice to spice it up a bit and change the camera angle. (full resolution: left, center, right)

  1. May the Fourth be with you, etc. etc.↩︎