So, thinking back to back in the day, I seem to recall a generally spotless bike. It was washed a few times per week, cables were typically fresh, and even before cartridge bearings, things ran well. I made sure they did.
Now, though, a couple of things are different. First, I have less time. It's sometimes hard to make time for bike riding (or helping Rider 3 with this blog) let alone bike maintenance. And the reality is equipment is so good now, that daily maintenance is more of a nice to have than a have to have.
Last week I changed my brake and gear cables. They were pathetically maintained, and really should have been replaced months ago. (As an aside to this I should note that I STARTED to change the cables. Then I got sidetracked with other things, like moving houses, and brought the bike to Two Wheel to have them finish the job.)
But in changing said cables I was exposed to something truly disgusting. Check out the picture below. Notice the chalky white substance. No, it's not excess adhesive from the bar tape. It's salt. I'm not joking when I say the salt was caked on in places at least a half centimeter thick.
So please, do yourself, and your bike a favor and don't follow my lead. Change your cables and tape a bit more often than once every six months. You and your bike will be happier for it.