So you’ve just got yourself a brand new bike. Welcome to one of the most fun ways to explore the world!
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise. It’s low impact so it’s good for your joints. It helps strengthen your legs, hips and glutes. It helps improve balance and coordination. It also helps strengthen your core. Why wouldn’t you want to ride a bike? Now that you’ve got your two wheels to freedom, there are some things to keep in mind.
Being a cyclist comes with a certain amount of responsibility. Bikes are considered vehicles and therefore, riders should obey the rules of the road. That means:
1. Stopping at stop signs and red lights.
2. Signalling your intent. There are specific hand signals to use but, I’ve found that pointing works just as well.
3. Riding on the road or designated bike path, NOT the sidewalk. If you are riding on a shared path, you should alert people that you are coming either by using a bell (which is mandatory to have on your bike) or by saying “Passing on your left”. Because bikes are considered vehicles, they must obey traffic laws. So you pass on the left, not on the right.
4. Not riding with headphones. You need to be fully aware of your surroundings. Wearing headphones on a bike is like distracted driving in a car. Don’t do it.
Walk into any bike shop and the sheer amount of stuff available for bikes can be more than a bit overwhelming. If you’re just getting into cycling and you don’t want to spend crazy amounts of money on All. The. Things. This is a list of the basics that will get you on the road ready to ride safely.
1. Helmet. This should be NON NEGOTIABLE. If you fall and hit your head and you’re not wearing a helmet, you could die. Plain and simple.
2. Bell (see points above)
3. Flashing lights for the front and rear of your bike. Ideally the front light is bright enough to illuminate the road in front of you if you are riding at night. A heads up, a good front light will be a little pricey.
4. Saddle bag with an extra tube, CO2 cartridge + inflater (or a hand pump), tire levers and a patch kit.
5. A foot pump so you can pump your tires before you go out for a ride.
6. Padded shorts. Even if you’re riding for shorter periods of time, these will make things much more comfortable.
7. Bottle cages + water bottles. You need to be able to carry fluids with you so these are a necessity.
NICE TO HAVE
1. A cycling jersey. These tops have pockets in the back so you can carry things like your phone, a small wallet and snacks!
2. A bike computer. There are a plethora of different options and price points for these. They capture distance and speed so you know how far you’ve gone and how fast. The ones with GPS are also VERY handy if you are looking to follow specific route.
3. Cadence sensor. If you are a triathlete and you are looking to improve your cycling technique, then a cadence sensor is a good place to start.
4. Cycling gloves. Everyone is different when it comes to gloves. Personally, I like them, especially in the summer when my hands get sweaty. They allow me to have better grip on my handle bars and the padding on the palms provides some cushioning on longer rides. In colder temperatures you will definitely want a set of full fingered gloves.
5. Indoor Trainer for winter riding.
6. Clipless pedals & cycling shoes.
Are these really necessary? Well, it depends on what you want to use your bike for. If you just want to cruise around the city, maybe do the odd few long-ish rides, then I would say you don’t NEED them. Flat pedals would be fine.
If you want to get into triathlon or you’re looking to do regular long rides or any sort of bike racing, then they are a must have. Here are three reasons why:
1. Efficiency. Clipless pedals attach your feet to your pedals. You become one with your bike. This means you’re able to use ALL of your leg muscles to move the pedals because you are able to pull up on the pedals as well as push down so more energy makes it in to your pedal stroke. When your feet are not attached to your pedals, you can’t pull up, you can only push down, which results in less energy being transferred to your pedal stroke, which makes it HARDER to get up a hill or accelerate.
2. Power. Being attached to the pedal allows for a constant application of power with each crank rotation. This generally translates to a much steadier cadence, which then translates to better efficiency. Better efficiency = more speed.
3. Safety / Control: This may seem counter-intuitive but, being attached to your bike actually allows for better control, especially when jumping curbs or trying to avoid potholes. When your foot is not clipped in, it can slip off the pedal which in turn can cause you to wobble and potentially lose control of your bike.
Clipless pedals take some getting used to but with practice getting in and out of them will become second nature.
Types of Bikes:
How to change a flat:
Road bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewPeojRSa0k
Road bike / mountain bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqR6nlZNeU8
How to remove your rear wheel:
How to patch a tube:
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. If you have any more questions, shoot me a note!
Be well and ride safe!