Four Things You Should Know As A New Road Cyclist
I am returning from Calgary today from an awesome weekend in the mountains. It was four sun-soaked days of racing, riding bikes and drinking some awesome coffee. I will be writing more about that later but today I wanted to address a post request that I have gotten from a few readers.
As a relatively new cyclist myself (remember when this was just a running blog?), I have been asked to share some of the biggest things I learned as I took up cycling.
Before I dive in, I have a confession. I love cycling as much as running. As an athlete that began as a runner, that is a big deal because I am the kind of addicted to running where I can be running down a mountain trail with a huge smile on my face and thinking “I am SO LUCKY.” But when I am out for long rides on my bike, flying down steep hills with a mountain backdrop, I get the same rush. Cycling has completely stolen my heart and I am so excited for all of you who have recently taken it up and get to have that awesome experience of falling in love with the sport.
So as I have learned to adore cycling, what are some of the biggest things I have learned?
Practice with clips before heading out on your first ride.
I remember how scary it was to ride with clips instead of flat pedals for the first time. I can now say in both road and mountain biking, that I feel much safer being clipped in that not. I began by practising on spin bikes at my gym, just getting used to the motion. I then graduated to riding on grass so it hurt less if I fell. Once I felt ready to take on the road, I tried to take routes with minimal stop lights at first and when I did need to come up to one, I anticipated the stop and unclipped with my dominant leg. As you ride longer, this action will become automatic, but for the first few rides, you need to be aware.
Learn basic bike mechanics.
When you have some spare time, practice changing or patching a tire, adjusting your brakes or taking your back wheel on and off. Understanding how to do basic bike mechanics will make you feel much more confident on your ride and minimise the time you are stuck at the side of the road. Have a fully loaded repair kit on your bike and know how to use each item. If you choose to use CO2 cartridges instead of a hand pump, remember to deflate and reinflate your tire when you get home.
If you are uncomfortable with learning these things on your own, seek out a local bike shop mechanic or go to a clinic to help. They will be more than happy to help.
Get a bike fitting.
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are getting numb feet or hands, a sore back or aches in your neck, you most likely do not have a proper bike fit. Not only that, if you are a runner as well, an incorrect bike fit can cause niggles that will morph into running injuries. If you are looking for a quality bike fitter, feel free to email me and I can direct you to someone in your area.
You should be almost as comfortable at the end of the ride as when you started (barring some sore muscles from working hard!)
Follow the rules of the road.
Remember that when you are on your bike, you are considered a vehicle. Blowing a stop sign or red light or causing an accident where you are at fault can result in a ticket with points on your car insurance. Ride safely and defensively – there is not such a thing as being overly cautious.
Feel free to email me if you have any more questions! I am happy to help and if I don’t know the answer myself, I will direct you to the many incredible resources I have in my life who do.