Getting into a new sport is kinda’ like getting in a cold pool – you can dance around it and slowly dip a toe in, or you can just jump right in and start having fun straight away! So if you’re new to riding on the road, here’s how to bomb dive that sucker!
Go all in!
A lot of new cyclists get very stressed over whether to ride clipped in, or what amount of lycra they can get away with without being judged by all their non-initiated friends. The only way to push past this stage is by going all in! Get clipless pedals and shoes, they make climbing and cornering so much easier. You may fall over a couple of times, but hey, welcome to the club. With lycra, just admit it, you love the way it feels, and honestly, you look better than you would if you were wearing board shorts on a road bike.
Everyone is wearing lycra, you’ll fit right in!
Get plugged into a cycling group
The best part about cycling is the social aspect, so get plugged into your local club, or on a nearby shop ride. Clubs are always stoked to have new members, and the more experienced riders will be more than happy to help with any issues you may be experiencing. If you’re looking to get fitter faster, a cycling club is definitely the way to go. Just Google ‘[insert city/town name here] cycling club,’ and the top 10 results are bound to have what you’re looking for. Alternatively, if you can’t find what you’re looking for online, ask your local bike shop, aka ‘LBS’ for short, for those new to the scene. Your LBS will more than likely have a club run you can get in on.
Learn basic bike maintenance 101: How to fix a puncture
Always, always, always take a spare tube, a CO2 canister and two tyre levers with you on the bike. Honestly, it’s more important than food or water. What’s even more important, is knowing how to use them – it’s really not rocket science (that said, in producing this how to guide, I wasted about 40 minutes, and punctured my first spare). So always carry two.
Step by step guide to changing a tube:
Drop your wheel out and fully deflate your tyre.Slip one tyre lever under the bead of your tyre and pry it over the rim. Then, using the notch at the other end of your lever, lock in onto a spoke.
Slip the other lever under the tyre and slide it around the rim, which will pull the tyre off the rim as you go. At this point you should have one side of the tyre sitting within the rim and the other side should now be outside the rim.
Pull the busted tube out and check the inside of the rim and tyre for any glass or stones that may have caused the puncture. If you don’t, you have a good chance of inflating your tyre just to flat two minutes later. You’ll only make that mistake once.
Partially inflate the spare tube to about 10 PSI, and then place the valve through the rim. Then slip the tube under the side of the tyre that’s off the rim and slip it inside the wheel. Watch out for any knots or kinks.
Using your tyre levers, with the same technique as before except in reverse, slide the bead of the tyre back onto the rim; you should finish opposite your valve stem. Towards the end it will get much more difficult, you may have to pry the last remaining centimeters on, rather than using just the sliding motion. Be careful not to pinch your tube between the tyre and the rim.
As you inflate your tyre, stop periodically to spin your wheel, checking the tyre to see that it’s running true (straight). If not, it means your tube is kinked and you’ll have to start again.
Know your route
If you aren’t comfortable on roads, bike paths can make cycling a lot more enjoyable.
Google maps has a great cycling function that sets the default route to bike paths and avoids all major roads. Whether you’re cycling to work or just to the nearest coffee shop, check it out on Google maps first, otherwise you could end up in trouble.
Watch your bike like a hawk
Whether you’re having coffee, cycling to work or just quickly stopping in at the shops, always chain and lock up your bike. If you can’t, never be more than an arms length from it. You hear horror stories of people who have left their bikes outside even just for a short stop, only to look back in hapless shock as a thief is speeding off on their bike. It does happen, and good luck claiming that one on insurance.