Wow, stopping at 10 tips was really hard, so hard I didn’t stop. Few bonus tips thrown in there. Feel free to add to the list! Soon to come – 10 Tips for First Time Group Rides and 10 Tips for First Time Road Racers.
1. Always make sure tires are properly inflated prior to riding – under-inflated tires lead to pinch flats, and fixing flats is not real fun.
2. Learn to change a flat tire PRIOR to having one out on the open road.
3. Always carry a cell phone – especially if you did not listen to tips 1 and 2. Bikes are machines and machines occasionally fail which may result in the need to call for assistance. The rider of the bike is human and humans occasionally fail (search: Bonk, Hitting the Wall, glycogen depletion, etc) which may also result in the need to call for assistance.
4. If you are buying a new bike, make sure you get one that is your size and then be sure you get fit to the bike. Correct bike fit should lead to many comfortable miles in the saddle. Incorrect bike fit can lead to you finding a different hobby.
5. Makes sure contact points are comfortable – this includes feet, hands, and the nether-region. Any of these being uncomfortable can make riding miserable and may result in you finding a different hobby. Tried to fix one of these with no success? Make sure you have followed rule #4.
6. Always carry a few bucks and some form of identification. If the human riding the bike does fail, limping to a gas station and refueling may save that dreaded call for assistance. You do not want to make the call, and odds are the person you are calling doesn’t want to spend their Saturday morning driving 20+ miles to pick you up. If the bike fails, someone may be nice enough to give you a ride and a few bucks for their effort would likely be appreciated.
7. Do not do the same ride, at the same intensity, every day. You will get bored and so will your body.
8. Find a local group ride that is “beginner” friendly. Odds are there is one or more in your area where the speed is controlled, group riding pointers are offered, and the environment is a good one. Riding with a group can be a lot more fun than riding alone.
9. Do not worry about average speed. Doing so will cause you to violate tip number 7. There is a lot that can impact your average speed, here are some things that can decrease average speed: Number of stop signs you encounter, number of people you are riding with, number of cars that caused you to slow down, whether you were riding uphill or downhill, the wind, the cold, the rain, how hydrated you are, how many dogs you had to sprint away from, how much recovery time was necessary after sprinting away from the dogs, just to name a few.
10. Just because it works for someone else does not mean it will work for you – this applies to choice of saddles, type and hours of training, choice in cycling shorts, the list goes on and on…
Bonus: Find an experienced rider and ask questions. Clean and lube your chain regularly. Learn the basics of bike maintenance. Always have some backup food in your pocket. Buy a good pair of bike shorts…
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