Getting Started / 101
Get Ready For Your First Time
Be sure to check the Pre ride check list below as well when you go out and ride.
Get the Right Bike for you and how you Ride
Determine the best bike for you and how you want to ride. For example, getting a commuter instead of a mountain bike can make a difference in your comfort and speed if you intend to use it primarily for getting to work. A Bike shop can help you determine which bike is right for you based on your intended purpose and the correct size and geometry.
Contact Points are Critical
Find the right equipment for all the points where you contact the bike to ensure your ride will be efficient, safe and most importantly comfortable. When buying a new bike, it's important to have the right shoes, saddle, gloves, helmet and eye protection.
Make sure that you get the right size bike, your local bike shop can help with that. However for someone going longer distances or trying to get a few extra seconds on the clock, a professional bicycle fit can make a world of difference. A bike fit can be the difference between your bike being an instrument of torture in the worst case or pure pleasure.
Preparation and Training
Do I Really Have to Train?
Yes! How you start training for a long distance bike ride depends largely on your present fitness level, age and the amount of cycling you have done in the past. There are various ways to train and need to be adapted to fit into your personal lifestyle. Realistic yet challenging goals are important both at training and during competition. Remember …Fitness on a bike is all about getting into a steady rhythm. You need to consistently pedal, rather than pedal-coast, pedal-coast. You will get the best results when consulting and or hiring a coach.
Carry a Tool Kit for the Road and Trail
For the most common breakdown which is a flat tire, carry the following:
- A spare tube and tire levers to remove the tire.
- A patch kit for repairing one of your tubes if you have a second flat.
- A tire boot (1 x 2-inch patch or an old section of tire) for tire cuts. The boot is placed between the tube and tire to cover the hole.
In addition, the following will help complete your toolkit.
- Mini-tool with 4, 5 and 6mm Allen wrenches and screwdrivers will allow you to adjust most of the bike's bolts. Some mini-tools also include a chain tool which is also handy in the event of a broken chain.
- Always carry cash for food
- Cell phone to call someone in case of the rare failure that you can't fix.
- Eat as you Ride to Sustain Energy
The heavier you are and the harder you exercise, the more calories you burn. The body can store roughly an hour-and-a-half to two-hours worth of glycogen or muscle fuel. So, if you're riding longer, you need to carry or stop to purchase food and consume enough calories to keep from developing a glycogen deficit.
It helps to have one water bottle with water and another filled with water and a mix with electrolytes if you are going to be riding for longer than an hour. This will help you replenish your body's natural stores as you sweat during that workout. Come in to learn what's available in terms of flavors and combinations.
Tips for Beginners
Purchasing a bike for a beginner in the sport can be a very intimidating and expensive decision. This does not have to be the case. If you are not certain how much use will get out of your newly acquired bike you may want to consider a used bike initially or perhaps you can borrow one from a friend. At that point you can determine if you like the sport and get a better feeling how much money you feel comfortable spending. Many local bike shops offer demos of complete bikes they will allow you to ride in advance. Perhaps the most important consideration before purchasing a bike and most commonly over looked is in reference to sizing of the bike.
A good and reputable local bike shop should employ a bike fit expert who can do a series of measurements to determine if the size is appropriate for you. There are a series of components that can be changed to better fit you. These include saddle and saddle height, stem length, handlebar width and drop as well as cleat position on your shoe. In reference to individual bike components if you chose to purchase a new bike please consider the following to avoid some common pitfalls. A higher quality wheel upgrade can make an enormous difference and frequently provides the most value for your dollar. This is because of simple physics which dictate that rotational weight(bike wheels) is more beneficial than static weight(bike frame). If your decision making process comes down to price point please chose a moderately priced frame leaving room in your budget to acquire a good set of lighter weight and stiffer wheels rather than the most expensive frame with heavy wheels.
- Keeping your bike clean is important because when you wipe down the frame you may see signs such as flaking paint which may indicate that a crack has developed. This is especially important after a crash.
- Wipe down the rims to clean residue that affects braking. Closely inspect the rim sides for wear from braking. Have us check the rim for safety.
- Spin the wheels. They should be round and true. If they wobble, spokes may have loosened and the wheel should be trued and tensioned.
- Inflate your tires to the proper pressure which is usually written on the sidewalls and inspect them closely for wear and tear. If they are bald or damaged, replace the tire.
- Grab the top of each wheel and gently push and pull laterally, feeling for play at the hubs. If you find any, the wheel bearings should be adjusted.
- Apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth feeling for play. If there's any play, the headset needs adjustment.
- Hold onto the crankarms and push and pull laterally feeling for play in the bottom-bracket bearings. Play indicates adjustment is needed.
- Prep the chain by applying a bike-specific lubricant, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with a rag.
- If your derailleur cables run beneath the bottom bracket, drop a bit of light oil on the contact areas.
- Inspect your chain ring for broken teeth, but don't be alarmed if you have newer chain rings and some teeth are slightly shorter than others. Chain rings are designed this way because the shorter teeth provide a specific release point where the chain can easily drop from the large ring to the small, improving the shifting.
- Check cables for rust and fraying, signs that replacement is needed.
- Make sure your handlebars have end plugs because open-ended bars can hurt you if you crash.
- If you use clipless pedals, check the hardware on your cleats and the cleats themselves for wear. Signs of worn-out cleats can be difficulty getting in and out of your pedals,and cleats that pull out inadvertently during hard pedaling.