14. Februar, 19:57 Uhr
I thought I would put together something for anyone new to cycling. I am by no means an expert, and I have only been riding two years in the Greater North-West so please feel free to add anything relevant that can help our fellow riders take advantage of all the great things cycling offers!
First note: This is coming from a commuter’s standpoint with an eye toward riding to work and getting in shape at the same time… Not a racer or a go-fast junkie.
The Ride (or whip or bike or spaceship):
Be it road bike, commuter, cyclocross, Mountain-bike or electric, this decision is entirely personal. I can say that you will get what you pay for, so figure out the type of bike you want and go from there. My overall impressions are like this:
Road bike - lighter but not as comfortable, especially for commuting
Commuter - Heavier and a bit slower, but much more comfortable for city riding
Cyclocross - My personal choice, a mix of road and mountain bike with comfort and speed
Mountain Bike - Unless you are riding off-road on your way to work or using this as your single bike while trailing it on the weekends, steer clear. Big tires and heavy frame make this more of a workout than the others.
Electric - I have no experience on this due to the cost. Out of my range =)
Accessories For Said Whip:
This is a list that could be quite long, so I will keep it to what I deem the essentials…
Lights - Get plenty of them, be it day or night. I like using two up front (one headlight and one blinking white), and two on the back (one on frame and other on backpack), both of those blinking red. I want to be seen as my morning commute is pitch black!
Fenders - If you are going to ride in inclement weather, these things are just priceless. Some are better than others, but if you are going to ride in the rain, or even just after it, you will never think “I wish I hadn’t bought these”.
Bags - Backpack or Pannier - entirely up to you. Backpacks for quick on the go and if your back can handle it, while panniers are perfect for long commutes and are much easier on the body since you don’t actually wear them. Only downside there is you need a rack installed to hold them on the bike.
Pedals - To go clip-less or not - this argument doesn’t have a loser, as both options are perfect for someone. I am a convert to clip-less, although there were some growing pains along the way. However, after riding this way for a few months, I just can’t go back to a normal pedal.
Locks - Even if you don’t plan to leave your bike anywhere, keep a good U-lock with you anyway. Never know when you may want to stop for coffee along your route!
Helmet - This could go under outfit, but I stuck it up here anyway. Get one that fits, is recommended by others, and don’t go cheap. Your brain is on the line!
You may see folks in all sorts of attire while you are riding around, and some of them may confuse you. It’s mostly personal choice here as well. If you are only a fair-weather rider, you can pick and choose a bit more randomly, but some type of rain gear is a must-have in my opinion. Waterproof jacket and pants and either shoe coverings or waterproof shoes will make the road much easier to enjoy if the weather turns and you get rained on. Outside of that, go with what is comfortable, stretches somewhat, and isn’t too baggy. Doesn’t need to be lycra, but snug and stretchy will work better and is less likely to get caught in anything whilst pedaling into the great beyond.
No, not the one toward enlightenment - the one to get to your destination! If you know the routes you want to take, double-check them with an app or Google Maps (using cycling as your mode of transportation). You may find that there is a better route to get there that takes road conditions and bike paths into consideration.
Heat - You can only take off so much! But, there are light options that will help wick the sweat away. Start with what you have (if you have workout or jogging clothes, try those) and go from there.
Cold - Layers and layers. Even below freezing is tolerable with enough layers. Insulated gloves are amazing for this. A hat with a facemark will keep you warmer than just a hat.
Rain - Dress accordingly (Rain gear preferred), watch out for painted surfaces on the roadway (these are slicker than the roads and you could slide), and stay away from puddles (could be a pothole hidden under there).
Ice - If you really must ride in ice or snow, put Zip-ties around your wheels with the connections on the bottom to act like traction devices.
Other Random Pointers:
Buying new vs used - Buying a used bike for a good deal for a great dealer can get you into a higher class of bike that you might normally be able to afford. Don’t knock it till you check em out.
Clipless - Practice a lot before you ride, learn to unclip early, and how to get one foot out quickly.
Don’t overdo it - Gradually increase your pace or distance, it will get more comfortable as you go.
Eating - Have a light meal or snack at least 30 minutes before riding, as it will help with your energy and will also prevent you from turning into a ravenous wolf when you are done with your ride. Take a snack bar or some other protein with you in case you want to munch halfway through.
Get fitted - Both for the bike and the position… It makes a difference!
Headphones - This is a hot-button issue depending on who you ask, but I like music. If you are using earbuds though, try to use only one or listen at low volumes so you can hear horns, sirens, or even car engines that are closing in on you faster than you may realize. And make sure local laws do not prohibit said headphones. Safety First!
- Before a grade: Take a swig of water if its a long climb. Might not get another change
- Uphill: Shift early, shift often. It will make it easier along the way
- Downhill: if you are riding for exercise, don’t stop pedaling on the downhill side
Hydrate: take a swig before a hill or rough section of road since you wont be able to during.
Maintenance - Routine maintenance should be done, whether by you or your local shop. Treat your whip like the treasure it is and you will be rewarded with years of pleasure
Music - If you can do it while being safe (more on that under headphones), music helps your pace and mood considerably!
Read - Join /r/cycling/ but don’t forget about other people and places as well. There is a wealth of knowledge out there if you need it.
Serial numbers - Take a photo of you with your bike, and record the serial number with the photo. Stolen bikes happen, and you will be happy you had these to give when reporting it.
Shifting - Remember to speed up before changing into a higher gear, and ease up on the pressure before doing it. This will allow the shift to happen smoothly without any grinding.
Storage - When not in use, store your ride somewhere safe and dry. Doesn’t have to be your bedroom closet, but outside in the elements doesn’t help to promote longevity either.
Short hills - Get out of the saddle for short sprints up a hill. You will feel awesome at the top.
Tires - New bikes from the factory typically have softer tires that can puncture pretty easy. If you ride on roads that have rock, broken glass, or poorly cleaned, expect to buy new ones (if you don’t have to, you will be happily disappointed).
Traffic - Riding with vehicles? Assume they can’t see you and be ready for sudden turns or cars pulling out in front of you.
Upgrades - Unless you are getting a great deal on a used bike, don’t worry about upgrades off the bat. Ride a few months and decide then what your priorities are.
Windy Conditions - Wind happens, so try to use it to your advantage. A cross wind or the wind at your back is much easier to deal with, if you can plan accordingly. Not always possible!