Bike 102: Bike Basics – Before, During and After a Ride

Bike 102: Bike Basics – Before, During and After a Ride

I’m a novice when it comes to cycling but I’m trying to learn as I go along. People are extremely helpful and have told me to ask all kinds of questions. The stumbling block to that is – I don’t know the right questions to ask. My bike is fairly new and is a well made brand and I have not had the time to face any serious issues (*crossing fingers*). So I don’t know what questions to ask other than the vague “What do I do?”

 I joked that I need a Bike 102 class (Bike 101 is a ‘how to ride’ class that I’ve had). And so I began a compilations of all things bike for beginners. This is a work in progress and will be updated as I collect more information or as my skill level varies. Bike Basics - What to do before, during and after the ride

I got a new bike, what else do I need?

  • A helmet (most obvious but needs to be stated. Never ride without your helmet).
  • A repair kit for the road consisting of 2 tubes, 2 CO2s, tire levers, CO2 inflator and a multitool. A $1 bill is also recommended in case you need to fix your tire. Mr. FauxTriathlete had help fixing his tire with a Gu wrapper. 

I am ready to ride outside, what do I do before starting the ride?

  • Always inflate your tires just before every ride. In the morning. The tire pressure number (psi) marked on the side of the tire is often the maximum pressure or a range.
  • Make sure you have your helmet, shoes and other essentials (phone, water bottles, ID, food, etc) in a “bike bag” so you don’t have to go scrambling looking for stuff before every ride.
  • Check the brakes and make sure that they are not rubbing on the tires. Give the tires a spin and apply the brakes to check.
  • If you are joining a group ride, you are usually given a “wheels down” time. This is the time you roll out of the meeting spot on your bike. So plan to get there 15-25min in advance to go over all the above.
  • Worried about riding alone or losing your way? Look for a “No Drop” ride. Others may or maynot stay near you at all times, but they will wait at every intersection until you get there, so you are never all alone. 
  • If you are a newbie with clipless pedals, practice clipping and unclipping on the trainer first to understand the motion of unclipping. Then take it outside to an empty parking lot and practice and practice more before you take it on to the roads. 

I just finished my ride, now what do I do?

  • Wash your bike (basic wipe-down clean) after every outdoor ride (I’ve also heard recommendations of one wash/every 3 rides). Do a deep cleaning once a month
  • Lubricate the chain after you wash. Use a rag to wipe off excess grease (extra lube attracts dirt).

I really want to be prepared, what do I need to learn?

(I’m having trouble with this section – so if you have suggestions on what is good to learnt, let me know and I’ll add it in!)

  • Learn to fix a flat tire. Ask a bike shop or look up you-tube videos and practice while watching TV. (I need to take my own advice).
  • Chain stuff. If you drop a chain, you’ll have to know how to put it back up. 

Any other general tips I need to be aware of?

  • Get to know your local bike store and bike mechanic. You are going to have a long relationship with them!
  • Derailleurs are very sensitive, so if don’t lay down your bike on that side if you are transporting the bike without a bike rack.
  • Keep a box of latex gloves or a rag in the car trunk and near the trainer to keep from getting grease everywhere when changing the back wheel out or while handling the chain.
  • Practice some bike handling skills every ride. If you aren’t there yet and completely unskilled like me, break down the action into littler actions and practice by steps. Eg – to learn to drink while riding, I’m practicing the first step of being comfortable with one hand on the handlebar and one hand just touching the bottle. 
  • Learn to use the gears properly. A huge skill needed on hills. 

Bikes are overwhelming to the newbie, but once broken down into littler things to learn it doesn’t seem that bad after all.

Thanks to Barbara and Mike for helping me with a lot of these tips. I’ll be adding more bike tips as and when I learn about them.

What other tips can you add for Bike Basics before, during and after a ride?  Is there anything about the bike in particular that you would like to learn – as a newbie or as an intermediate cyclist?


I’m joining the Tri Talk Tuesday link-up hosted by Cynthia at You Signed up for What?!, Courtney at The TriGirl Chronicles, and Phaedra at Blisters and Black Toenails.

Tomorrow, Wednesday is PINspiration Wednesday. Don’t forget to LinkUp with a motivational post! 

Pinspiration Wednesday

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  • Jess

    I applaud you for tackling two new sports, it seems overwhelming! Looking forward to seeing all the things you learn over the next 6 months.

    • It was so overwhelming when I first wanted to tri (2 years ago) the IronGirl here that I panicked and everyday was miserable. I finally gave up on the idea of a tri and was sooo relieved that I knew I’d made the right choice. That summer, I simply decided to swim 2/week, bike 2/week and run 2/week not more than 45-60min each. That was manageable and before I knew it I was trained for a sprint triathlon. I could not be doing this without a coach’s help. It makes everyday just one workout at a time.

  • Amy Stone

    Good post. My tri-talk link up post is seven things all female cyclists should know how to do so you can check it out but you covered a lot of them. I learned mostly by every time something happened that somebody else had to do to to help me I asked to learn to do it myself next time. I still feel like a newbie and I still say a quick prayer for no flats and no crashes before every ride.

    • I loved you seven things post!! And prayers always help πŸ™‚

  • Phaedra @ B&BT

    This is a FABULOUS post! I’ve been riding for so long, all of these things are habit so I don’t even think about them any more. My two cents would be invest in a good pair of shorts and a saddle that is appropriate for you. Just because your bike came with a saddle doesn’t mean it’s going to be comfortable. πŸ™‚

    • Great tip about the saddle !! I read your finding the right saddle/boyfriend post πŸ˜€
      I think I’m still looking for mine, although I seem to have found the right pair of tri shorts.

  • jillconyers

    Thanks for this! I’ve been thinking about starting to ride. Nothing too serious at first but just see how I like it as an exercise option. Something a little more than family bike rides around the neighborhood πŸ™‚

    • I bet you will fall in love with riding! With the right bike, everyone I know seems to have fallen in love. I know I’m looking forward to it!

  • Very good basics! I was very neglectful of cleaning my bikes over the winter…good reminder.

    • Isn’t it funny how that is often forgotten? The only reason mine was in ridable condition was because it was being riden on the trainer so much.

  • Courtney@TriGirl Chronicles

    I’m the worst about cleaning my own bike. Every time I bring it to my LBS I get really surprised that no one throws things at me for it. Great advice!

    • Haha. I had that moment just last week. The mechanic very gently told me that my bike was very beautiful and that I needed to look after her to keep it beautiful.

  • Kristen K.

    Whoa. I just got a bike (like the most basic mountain bike out there) for riding around town for fun and had no idea what I was getting myself into apparently! I’m still trying to figure out switching gears and have no idea how i’d fix them if something went wrong. I may need to stop by a bike shop once I get up to riding more miles so I can learn how to take care of my bike!

    • I’d totally suggest going to the store or riding with a friend and learning about gears. That was the hardest thing for me to learn and I’m still caught on the wrong gear on hills.

  • This is such a great list of the little things a newbie rider should know! Nice work! To your section I got a new bike what else do I need I would add a saddle! The saddles that come stock are rarely highly quality, and unless you are buying a female specific bike they were not made with your lady parts in mind πŸ˜‰ Getting a good saddle is a MUST if you want to log long miles on the bike!

    • True!! I’m still trying to find the right saddle. I have one that I fairly like but after the last 3hr ride, my soft tissues were so sore!

  • debbielq

    Great list! Practicing changing your tire while at home is so important. Learning in a stress free environment is so easy compared to trying it for the first time on the road.

    Also, everyone should know that if they are using clipless pedals, they WILL fall over at some point. No matter how many times you practice there will be that time that you pull up to a light and forget to unclip.

    And make sure that you are fitted for your bike correctly. It may still need some tweaks after the first time, so if you’re uncomfortable while you’re riding, get it checked out.

    • Totally agree on Bike Fitting. When I got mine done this year after riding all last year (less than 20 miles each time) without a fit, it felt like easy power gained!

      And yes to the falling over unclipping. Until I accepted that I would fall and I just need to deal with it, I couldn’t get over my fear.

  • Sandra Laflamme

    I could use a little bike 102 ! Great post!!

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