I hope everyone has been staying safe!
Writing this blog puts a smile on my face. In these not so nice times in the world, Australia has seen an influx of new bike riders. Young and old, sharing the common interest of bike riding. How good!!! So, fittingly, today’s blog is all about ‘the things I wish I knew when I was getting into cycling’. I still remember vividly just how green I was, so ideally, I’ll be able to give you a tip or two!
Tips and all, I think the most important thing to remember is to have fun! With all that’s going on in the world we are so lucky to be in the position to be able to ride bikes. Be it short, long, flat or hilly, remember to smile while out riding and the rest will follow!
Now it’s been a few years since I bugged my parents to take me down to the local cycling club so I could start road riding. But I have some clear memories of my first few road rides!
Some positives, and some things I really wish I had been told… so hopefully I can give some advice for anyone getting into road cycling!
Make sure you have a bike in working order!
In order to begin you need a working bike. A good local bike shop, or friend can generally help with this! It’s important to remember that no question is ever too silly, so rack the brains of the more experienced, they will be more than happy to help. On the topic of a working bike, one piece of advice I can give is to ensure your tyres are pumped before each ride. Having the correct tyre pressure will make the world of difference. I certainly have learnt this the hard way! A properly set up and maintained bike is essential for enjoyment and most importantly, SAFETY!
Find a riding buddy
Okay okay, not really essential, but this can make for better and easier introduction to cycling. I was very lucky to have my dad into road cycling. My first rides on the road were with him, which I look back now and realise how grateful I am for this. It can be very daunting riding on the road the first few times, but riding with a more experienced buddy can really put you at ease. Ideally, your buddy will also be able to show you some quieter more bike friendly roads to begin with.
Be prepared- bring spares!
Bring spares! A tube, tyre levers, multi-tool, and either a mini pump or co2 canister are essential to ensuring you don’t have to phone a friend to be saved. Not like I’ve ever had to do this… But in saying this, there is probably no point in bringing this equipment if you don’t know how to change a tyre.
It’s safe to say my first few years on the road I was clueless as to how to change a puncture. I always rode with my Dad to start with, so figured if I punctured, I’d be fine. But then I was old enough to ride alone, however remained clueless how to change a puncture. I’m sure my mum didn’t enjoy the 6am phone call before work, asking to be rescued- Thanks Mum! I’m sure you will have connected with someone else who rides bikes, your cycling buddy, local bike store or even YouTube are great places to learn this very important skill. But seriously, practice changing tyres, it will save you!
Now that we have the bike situation sorted, I think we should move onto kit. After all, look good, feel good. Now by no means am I suggesting you need cycling kit, but the more you get into cycling you will very quickly understand just why people spend copious hours shopping for the coolest cycling kit around (hint- Rapha make super cool kit). A good quality chamois can save you from a world of discomfort! For longer rides I add some Muc-Off chamois cream to ensure comfort.
Equally important for comfort, is a combination of a good bike fit and finding an awesome Ergon saddle. A final side note on comfort, don’t wear underwear under your cycling knicks- trust me!
More on bike fitting
A good cycling kit is of no use without a well-fitting bike. Now I am not saying to go out and spend all your hard-earned cash on a bike fit. But I can strongly recommend getting some form of bike fit. Your local bike shop, a cycling friend or professional bike fitter can all be of assistance. A few small adjustments can make the world of difference, to both comfort and performance. I would very much agree with the wise words of my younger sister on bike fits, ‘after my first bike fit, for the first time ever I felt at one with my bike’.
If riding cleats…
By no means essential, cleats will make your ride much easier. If you do choose to go down this path, I would recommend practicing clipping in and out while stationary and leaning against a wall, then graduating to the grass. You want to be completely confident that you can clip in and out before you take on the roads.
I have clear memories of clipping in and then attempting to avoid stopping all ride, so I didn’t have to clip out. Was a good idea in theory, until I had no choice but to stop. This did not end well, and I kindly told my family that I was never going to ride my bike ever again. Turns out I was rather wrong.
Now I hope these little insights might save someone from making the mistakes that I made. A little hint here and there never hurt anyone!
Cycling is such an awesome sport, and I’m excited to see more and more people getting involved. The most important thing is to get out there and enjoy yourself!
That’s it from me for now. Have fun!