Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Nine Beginner’s Tips

November 20, 2007

1. When wearing chamois, go commando!I truly believe that one of the most unasked questions in cycling is “do I wear underwear with chamois?” The answer is an emphatic NO. Chamois is designed to be up against the skin. Its purpose is to help eliminate areas of friction and irritation in the crotch area. If you wear underwear you can cause an area of friction, which can be painful and lead to saddle sores. Chamois is very individual, so you may have to try a few to find the one that’s shaped right for you. Also consider chamois butter, particularly for long rides. For me Assos chamois creme has made all the difference in the world (though the menthol in it is still quite shocking at times). It virtually eliminates friction. There are other brands that other people like, so it is important to find the one that is most comfortable for you.

2. If you have clipless pedals, practice clipping in and out.Practice each foot separately, (clip in right, clip out right. Repeat for five minutes. Switch to left for five minutes). Just like anything else in sports, your body needs time to adjust to muscle memory, in this case of clipping in (i.e., your body instead of your mind remembers where the cleat is located in relationship to the ball of your foot), or clipping out (i.e., instinctively knowing the angle where your “clip mechanism” disengages). At first you’ll have to think about what you’re doing, but after a while, it will become second nature to you.

3. Right is Rear brake, and Rear derailleur. Remember “double R”, Right is Rear (unless you’re British).In braking, a good habit to get into, is to squeeze the (right) rear brake first, then simultaneously, gently squeeze the front brake (left). Also, learn how to “feather” your brakes. 70% of your braking power is in your Front brake, so please use it wisely.

4. If you fall, don’t stick out your hand; instead, learn how to tuck and roll.People just instinctively do this, particularly on slow speed falls, and it’s how people break their wrists. The very best thing that you can do is hold onto the bike, take the impact with your side, and roll with it.

5. I can’t emphasize enough how important these three elements are:

1. A properly fitted bike.
2. The right clothes, gloves, shoes, and helmet.
3. The right saddle.
If you have all of this dialed, then your body becomes completely carefree and pain-free. All you’re left with is pure enjoyment on the bike. But I’ve talked with far too many people who’ve had unnecessary friction burns from ill-fitting clothing, or had pain in their contact points (hands, feet and crotch) from the wrong shoes, gloves or saddle (and boy, I’ve had my share of blunders, too).If your bike fits you properly, there should be no pain in the body; not in the neck, shoulders, back, or knees, nor in any joint. Pain in any of these places indicates that something about the position of your bike needs adjustment.

6. Know how to fix a flat. And be fully prepared at all times.That means carrying extra tubes, patches, tire levers, and pump (or CO2 cartridges), and knowing how to use them. You WILL need them someday.

7. Check your bike and your gear (your stuff) each time you go out, without exception.Know how to check these things on your bike- tires, quick release skewers, brakes, headset, and drivetrain. Check you gear – make sure you have your helmut, gloves, water, food, your flat kit (see #6), and a multi-tool, if you know how to use one.If the list is too long to remember, type one up and print it out. Look at the list each time you’re about to go out. After a while this will become second nature as well, and will only take a few minutes. You risk having an accident, and that accident having disastrous results, by not doing these simple checks. Please, please do them.

8. Know how to shift gears, if you have them.At this point, many manufacturers have different subtleties of how they shift. Learn about yours, and how to shift smoothly with them. This will make things more comfortable for you as a rider, and will make the drivetrain last longer.

9. Your bike is your friend, your baby. Love it, take care of it, and you can have many blissful years together. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: