Monday, June 4, 2012

Beginners Guide To Biking. By A Beginner. Part I

Part of my motivation for starting this blog was to create something I have not found yet. A cycling blog the way that others have running blogs. While I was researching running,  runner's blogs were a great resource.  I have found the cycling on line community to be much less present than the running community. 

(If you don't believe this to be true AWESOME.  Leave a comment about some cycling communities and blogs that you enjoy.)

I've been biking since April.  I hope that writing down what I have learned thus far will be more helpful to new cyclists than what I would write in say a year or two.  When I forget all of the questions and surprises  I had when I started.

Cycling isn't cheap.  But that doesn't mean it's not feasible.

1.  The Bike

Most articles you find will say something like this:

"Any bike will do!  Pull out the old mountain bike in your garage and take off!"

It's good advice.  You should be sure you are going to really take cycling up as a sport/hobby/lifestyle change before you start spending money.  However, don't let that thinking take you past the point where you should have been out looking for a better bike.  Struggling will sap the enjoyment out of anything.

My advice is this, the moment you realize that you are looking forward to the days ride, you are upset it's not a ride day, or you are seriously considering riding in the rain, it is time to get a good bike.  What's a good bike?  What are you doing?  It has a lot to do with your goals and what you want from biking. I currently have a hybrid and a road bike.  I love both but I they are not made for the same thing.  I take the hybrid out for long slow rides with friends.  I take the road bike out when I am biking for a work out and trying to break all of my personal land speed records.  I am on the road bike more because once you are pushing a 20lb bike with thin tires, it's really hard to go back to pushing a 26lb bike with wide tires.  Trust me. 

Go to a bike shop or 2 or 3.  Check out the bikes ask for advice, and get fitted on the different types you are interested in.  You want a strong, light bike with tires specific to what you want to be doing.  This doesn't mean you have to buy the bike from the bike shop.  Check garage sales and Craigslist and pick up a nearly new bike that someone bought and found out they really didn't like.  Just do your research first.  Know what size you are looking for, what type of bike you want and which brands will best cater to your needs.  Raleigh, Trek and Giant are the three names in my garage.  

Do not be fooled by the bikes at Wal-Mart.  They say Road Bike and Hybrid on them, they say "Pick me up, light aluminum!"   I tried to pick up a Light Wal-mart road bike, I couldn't.  I could carry my road bike over my head for a mile if I had too.  Well, if my arms were longer.

2.  Wardrobe

There are Four purchases that I highly, suggest as your basic cycling wardrobe.  Cycling gloves, Cycling shorts, sunglasses and a helmet.  Most of mine were amazon purchases. 

The further you go the more your hands and butt are going to hurt and they are at some point going to go numb.  Gloves delay all of that while you build up your tolerance.  Your hands will come back around in a few minutes.  Your butt will be hurting for the next month.  Even with your padded shorts it is going to take your butt about a month to adjust to your new activity.

Before I started riding I thought cyclist wore those shorts for speed or some other unidentifiable purpose.  My first month I went out 3-4 days a week in padded bike shorts.  It took me until the next month to be able to sit down like a normal person.  Every week is a little better until one day you wake up and realize your butt doesn't hurt anymore.  That's a good day.  Note I said padded shorts.

Sunglasses aren't just for the sun.  You need to protect your eyes from debris and bugs.  I started with my normal pair and have graduated to a Target "sport" pair.  I've been eying the $100 glasses at the bike shop though.

A helmet is like a seatbelt.  You know you have too.  And you may not realize it yet, but you are going to be going really fast.  Do you really want to be going down a hill at 25 MPH on a bike with no helmet on?  I didn't think so.  What is proper helmet wearing look like?  I used this article to help myself figure it out.

You can read  Part II here, and part III here. Do you have any advice for me or other new cyclists?  Is there anything you thing in these categories you think I missed?  Let me know!

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