The open road, the wind in your hair, the beautiful countryside. Cycling wheather it’s on the road or down a track on a mountain bike is great fun, great exercise and every ride is an adventure.
People look at bikes these days and think, ah it’s just a bike. I discovered that cycling has a great deal more to it these days. In addition to learning the fundamentals of cycling to improve my style and technique, over the years I’ve had to learn about bikes! I’m a very practical guy so setting too with allen keys and spanners didn’t both me, no local bike shop for me. If you really get stuck Youtube always has the answer!!
I had other learning experiences along the way such as how to ride a bike with clip in pedals or SPD’s as you may hear them refered too. Cycling shoes have clips on them that latch onto special pedals and take some getting used to and setting up. Learning to do this resulted in some embarrassing moments! When you stop with clip in pedals you are supposed to lean on the side you unclip (if you unclip your right foot you should lean to the right). There were times when I pulled up to a junction or traffic lights, unclipped, leaned to wrong side, and fell. Not my finest moments.
As an amateur cyclist and speaking from experience, don’t go and spend thousands on a bike, it’s really not needed, especally if you are only just starting out. If you fall off and damage a lovely carbon fibre bike you will kick yourself. Buy cheaper (up to £600-£1000) for your first year. See how you get on with the bike fit, style, wieght etc. Bike don’t all ride the same. Even now the bike in the photo above is 10 years old with thousands of miles on the bearings, aluminium frame, mid range components, it’s completed London to Paris and lots of other stuff. However it’s comfortable in my setup, reliable and I can ride 25 to 50 miles on one ride with no issues. It’s fast when I want to go fast, I’ve topped out at 42mph on one local downhill country lane and happily ride at 25-30mph on the flat.
You hear people say get carbon this and carbon that, make you bike lighter and faster, then I look at them! Their are 2 key things that effect weight and speed:
1. How much water you carry, 1 or 2 bottles (1 bottle can weigh as much as all these expensive carbon bits put together and is a lot cheaper to leave at home).
2. You!!! If you want to go fast, be stronger, loose weight! Most of use amateur cyclists carry a little extra here and there. If you can loose half a stone thats the weight of the bike and you will really notice the difference. Best of all you can loose weight cycling and it’s free!!
Some other tips:
1. Tyre pressures especally on road bikes are important and can save you alot of punchers. So check these before each ride, they also really help to make cycling easier.
2. Helmet, always wear one, enough said!
3. This is from experience, invest in a helmet camera like a GoPro or Contour. With so much traffic on the roads these days, accidents or even road rage can happen especally in towns and cities. This allows you to capture a car number etc and report it. However alot also have the advantage of tracking you rides via GPS. You can then review your whole ride back at home, grab snapshots from the video, all sorts!!!
The bottom line here is I fell in love with cycling years ago. For me it is a great experience to ride long distances and enjoy nature and the countryside.
An important tip: make sure that you have your bike fitted! This is relatively inexpensive and can save you from injuries and other uncomfortable occurrences during a long ride.