7.14.2014

So You Want to be a Cyclist



Before I met M I really wanted to get into triathlons. One of my biggest fears was road biking, which prevented me from pursuing this desire (I did, however, own an old bike). I had so many hesitations, fears, and questions that prevented me from really getting into cycling seriously. Without M to help me along, I surely would have been clueless. Here is what I wish I would have known before he came along.

1. Find someone that has a road bike and get on it. For me, I didn't know anyone that had a road bike (before M). Luckily, I had purchased an old road bike for about $100. My intention was to buy the bike to see if I even enjoyed cycling before I made any more commitments. I would highly recommend getting on a bike before committing to buying one. I had this bike for about a year, but when I started to seriously train I began using M's bike since we are the same size. I used his for almost a year before purchasing my own. I would suggest not diving into purchasing a new bike until you know it is something you will stick with.

2. Buy bike shorts. Seriously. They are pricey but totally worth saving your butt from the pain that will follow without them. Especially if you are not used to being on a bike. And buy good ones because it will make all the difference. You will eventually want to buy a jersey too, but bike shorts are a must from the start. I have also learned that brighter and tighter is best when it comes to cycling gear!

3. Buy a good helmet. This means getting fitted for one. A basic helmet will do while you are still in step 1, but you will want to invest in a good helmet if you are going to get into cycling seriously. AND ALWAYS WEAR IT.



4. Buy your own bike. This also means getting properly fitted for a bike. Trust me, it will make a world of difference and it will make your ride much more enjoyable. You can find used bikes for a reasonable price. I bought a new bike for around $1,200. I ride a Trek women's specific Lexa. It is one of the best investments I have made. Be sure to do your research and find a bike shop you trust. You do not have to splurge- it really depends on the type of riding you will be doing, and a bike shop can help you decide on the best option for you. Part of buying a bike should also include purchasing a repair kit that has spare tubes and an air source.

5. LEARN THE RULES OF THE ROAD. Seriously. You don't want to be that cyclist that makes people in cars want to run us all off the road. Go online and do you research, or go to a clinic at your local bike shop. You want to learn how to act like a vehicle on your bike. You also want to learn proper hand signals. Knowing the rules of the road isn't only responsible, but it will keep you safe. Defensive biking is really important. I would also suggest getting on your bike in parking lots or biking paths before getting on the road. You want to feel confident in your handling before you are on the road with cars. This can take months of consistent riding. I have been riding consistently for about two years and I am still learning. 

6. BE RESPECTFUL TO CYCLISTS IN YOUR OWN CAR. I know we all feel anonymous in our cars, but if you aren't willing to share the road with cyclists, why should they share it with you while you are on the bike? Learn that when in a car, you should wait until it is safe to pass. You should not speed up to pass a cyclist quickly- it is terrifying.

7. Invest in clips. Clipping into your bike pedals with the proper riding shoes has a lot of benefits. It will feel weird at first and will take a while to get the hang of (I have fallen over on my bike numerous times trying to get the hang of them). Overall, it will really help decrease your effort while adding to your speed. Plus, climbing hills in them is SO MUCH EASIER.

8. Find a buddy. Once you are comfortable with your handling skills, get out on the road with a buddy. I only rode roads with M for a while and refused to go out alone. It provides some comfort when you are first getting out on the road. Once you get comfortable riding with a buddy, graduate to riding in groups! It is a whole new experience and a ton of fun.



9. Work on your technique. If you have basic handling down, work on things like climbing, descending, cornering, and looking over your shoulder. 

10. Learn how to change a flat. To be honest, I am still not the best at this but I can do it if I have to. It will save you when you're out on a long ride without cell service and you flat out. Learning other basic maintenance is also useful, but I admittedly just ask M or take it in to the shop!

11. Always carry your phone with you. If you do not feel comfortable with this, at least carry some form of identification like a driver's license or Road ID. God forbid anything happen, but if something does emergency responders will be able to identify you and contact family. 

12. Learn the lingo. I am going to be the first to admit that cyclists (especially road cyclists) can be a bit pretentious. And it can be very intimidating. I have learned that asking experienced cyclists questions, or asking for clarification when I did not understand something really helped me to learn the "lingo," even if it was awkward asking.

13. Track your rides! I love seeing how I have improved over time. My favorite app for tracking my rides is Strava. 

Have you ever done road cycling? What do you wish you would have known?

5 comments :

  1. Mia- MakeMeUpMiaJuly 14, 2014 at 7:08 AM

    I have never done road cycling before but I think it would definitely be something I enjoy! That first pic makes me want to return to the Grand Canyon, that was the best trip my husband and I have had :)

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  2. I love it- it can be so versatile and great for all kinds of people! We love the Grand Canyon- I'm actually working on a post about it now. Did you go to the south or north rim? The above photos is from the north and it's definitely my favorite rim!

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  3. We want bikes. I think that would be a start :) We can't cycle without bikes :-p Thanks for posting this!

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  4. You can always rent some to try out! ;)

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  5. Funny, my name is Cassie too, and I've only recently begun to get seriously interested in cycling. :)

    My interest actually came about because I'm a journalism major and have covered several transit and biking related stories. I met so many friendly and passionate people who advocate for cycling in L.A., and it just opened me up to a whole new world. I'm just a residential cyclist right now and don't have the proper bike shorts (I feel the need for them every. single. time), but I'm trying to get over any anxieties and go on a group bike ride soon!

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