How to be Less Beaten by a Frigid Bike Wash

My dirty Trek Checkpoint, on a bridge, during a snack stop.

One of the silver linings to dark cloud of COVID-19 and 2020 Is the amount of extra time I get to spend on my bike. I live in the PNW and have a gravel bike. A 2019 Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 to be exact. It should be no surprised that with our rain, a gravel bike gets dirty. That’s part of the fun. what’s less fun is washing that dirt off. What’s even less fun than that, is washing that dirt off when it’s ridiculously cold outside.

This weekend I went on a 60 mile ride to celebrate the winter solstice. We had good timing and beat all but one hour of rain during our ride. The days prior had been wet, so we were riding through a lot of mud. I’ve got fenders but with enough riding and enough wet, your bike will get filthy. Anyone who rides knows that dirt and water turn into a grinding paste that will accelerate the wear on your chain, chainrings, cassette, and anywhere else it works it’s way in. Washing isn’t fun, but it is a necessity.

The last time I washed my bike, was a beautiful, sunny fall day. The only problem, it was about 38 degrees out. That means the garden hose was super stiff, and the water coming out of the end, near freezing. No problem I thought, I’ll just grab a bucket of warm, soapy water from indoors. That worked great, until it was time to rinse. There was no way to keep that cold water off my hands.

Following my ride, I looked at my bike in the garage, it was filthy. There was no way I could, in good conscience, ride it. I’d be destroying it. So I set out for how to clean my bike and not kill my hands. The first thing is a hose outdoors gets stiff during the cold winter months. I knew I was going to tackle that with one of those flexible hoses you see. I was concerned it might not be super durable, but if I only used it for bike washes, it should last quite a while. I ended up picking the hose to the left off Amazon. A tip I read suggested getting a little longer than you need since using the full length of these stretchy hoses can be a bit of a pain.

So, we have solved the stiff, cold hose. What about our cold hands? I’ve got a utility sink just inside the house from the garage. That’s how I got the hot soapy water to my bike in the first place. I grabbed a faucet adapter that lets me hook up my hose to my utility sink. Yay! Now I have warm water for washing and rinsing and a hose that I can work with.

I find that a lot of times, if there’s some problem I have, likely someone has either solved it, or the pieces exist and just need to be pulled together into a novel solution. I’m far from the first person to connect a hose to a sink (hello aquarists), but I was quite happy to figure out a pain free way to wash my biked in the dirtiest of months.