People always wonder how I get bikes to survive the beating I dish out. I'm a big dude, and I ride pretty hard, and occasionally pretty fast, providing I can find a steep enough downhill to cartwheel down with the mountain bike, or a long enough flat to let me get up to takeoff speed. They wonder also how to take care of their 'cross bikes.
I'll let you in on a secret.
Bikes can talk!
Yeah, it's true. Weird, but totally true.
You just have to understand what they are saying, to commune with the bike, in order to get the best performance out of them.
No, you don't have to talk to the bike, most of the time. People will only think you're nuts, and bikes don't want to hear your stupid shit anyhow. But you do have to listen closely.
In the case of my 'cross bike, what the bike says is really, really clear. It tells me exactly what it's thinking, and what I need to do to get it in shape to ride. Then it lets me know when it's ready to go. I'll show you what it says. Check out what my bike had to say tonight, as it sat there all encrusted with cross practice mud, grass, spit and blood:
Clearly, this bike was in need of a wash, a dry, and a little bit of a lube job. So I set to work with the hose, a soft cloth, and a little bit of TriFlow. An hour later? Totally different tune.
See? All you have to do is listen to what the bike says. It will practically tell you what you need to do to get it squared away.