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.
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?
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