Professor Moody's admonition to the students of Hogwarts also applies to cyclists. I've just looked at a GoPro video of a guy tooling along the highway when a deer suddenly jumps into him (not the one in Africa). In this case, lack of vigilance was not the cause of the problem. But it got me to thinking, specifically about last Sunday's ride and why it is a good thing to take a few minutes to check out your bike on a regular basis.
We stopped at a convenience store for a break, and I leaned my bike on the wall, As I munched my Clif bar and meandered around I glanced back at my bike. This was a full-frontal view; I did a double-take. Certainly my eyes deceived me, because it appeared the saddle was out-of-line. I went to the rear, and moved the bike to a vertical position. I went back to the front. I asked my buddies for verification. Yes, off-kilter. Puzzling.
I'm trying to remember the last time I adjusted the saddle. I know for a fact that my time-trial bike hasn't had any adjustment in the six years I've had it. The last time I remember moving the saddle was 2009, when I did the Land's End to John O'Groats ride. Certainly it hasn't been that long. Maybe when it was in the bike shop. Of course, when or who is not germane to my topic.
What I am advocating is a cursory inspection of your bike at least once a week, or 200 miles. Check the handlebars and saddle alignment. I scratched a line on my saddle post so I know where it should be. A piece of tape also works. About handlebars, several years ago on a Sunday group ride, I was going down a slight hill when my handlebar bolt broke. Fortunately, my friends got on each side of me until we could get stopped, so I made a graceful dismount.
I read somewhere that you should inspect your tires after each ride, but I don't unless the road surface was particularly dirty or wet. Wet tires pick up more crud which tends to stick to the tire and might embed itself, eventually causing a flat. You might be surprised how black a rag might be when you run it around the brake patch of the wheel.
I carry a rag or paper towel in the back of my Rav4. At the end of each ride, before loading the bike, I wipe the chain. As I read on the Rock N Roll website, the movement of the chain creates static electricity which attracts dirt. This dirt mixes with the lubricant on the outside of the chain, which in turn acts like a sponge drawing out the working-lubricant. Cleaning your chain after each ride prolongs the effectiveness of the lube, thus you don't need to re-lube as often.
Checking the wheel alignment should also be part of your routine, saving you from a range of problems such as minor braking difficulties to a broken spoke (which in itself can lead to serious consequences). When I purchased my bike in 2001, it came with Rolf Vector Pro wheels. You never have to true them. I haven't trued my time-trial Zipps either, but they have relatively few miles on them. I can say that even before 2001, I was terrible at trueing a wheel and usually ended up going to the bike shop.
It only takes a few minutes to give your bike a once-over. Make it a habit.