What things should cyclists know when they become new members of the cycling community? For new and pro cyclists alike, sometimes we can lose focus and chase after new shiny pieces of kit and forget what really matters: the ride. These are a few tips that will help all riders- whether you’re new or re-kindling the flame.
1. Don’t fall for cheap gear.
Do you plan on being a cyclist for a week or for life? If your answer is a week or more, getting quality gear is worth it. Quality gear will last longer, saving you time and frustration.
As a mechanic, I frequently have customers who buy cheap repair parts that will only last long enough to get them by. Soon after that part was purchased and installed, the customer would come pushing the bike in with another problem that could have been avoided by purchasing the right gear from the get-go.
If you plan on long touring rides or commuting, get gear that can take the long miles and abuse from the weather. If you want to race road, get a bike that will help you achieve that goal- something you can “grow-into” athletically. There is no shame in getting a killer bike right from the start knowing you are going to put in the work and dedication to make it go far and fast.
2. Know your surroundings.
Where do you work and where do you call home? Got it? Good! Now, do you know the best rides and routes from those destinations? For myself I can positively say “no.” I am always finding new roads and new trails.
MTB Project.com provides interactive maps of trails everywhere in your area and beyond. I love using this app when traveling for a weekend racing or if I’m out of my comfort zone in the bigger sections of trail. MTB Project is constantly updating, meaning that you can see trail features that are down, monitor hour-to-hour trail conditions and snap cool photos and brag to your friends. A must have app for any cyclist.
3. Your local-independent bike shop is your best friend.
Getting gear over the internet can save you money and possibly a trip in the car, but you know where you going when that gear doesn’t work? Straight to the local bike shop!
Do yourself a favor go the local bike shop, introduce yourself and look around. Your local bike shop should/will be your sanctuary, fun place and place to chase dreams and talk crazy. (If this is not the case, then you need to find a new shop, and I’m sure there’s one out there for you! Find one near you here.)
The independent/local bike shop can be a pillar of the cycling community. Local shops will not only fix your gear, get you the best service, and listen to your crazy rants. These shops employ your friends, your cycling soldiers in arms on the road, and have dedicated their future to cycling. Supporting these independent shops means that they can help more and more people discover the joy of cycling.
4. Connect with local ride and trail maintenance groups.
The best way to dive into the local cycling scene is to connect with local riders on a café or group ride. Ask your local bike shop if they know of any group rides that will fit your skill level. Most cities have many to choose from and can range from- chill urban ride, recovery/café, to all out race-pace. Knowing that you can move up in rides and challenge yourself is a great thing to have available.
Trail maintenance groups are another way to get in touch with the local scene while cycling. These groups of die-hard trail defenders have local chapters and are who you want to thank when a downed tree gets moved or a new rock feature is created. If this sounds like fun to you, check the IMDA.com and find a chapter near you!
5. Be proactive on bike prep.
Being a cyclist can mean many things, but overall it means that you ride your bike to have fun. So show your bike how much you enjoy its company! Keeping your bike clean and lubed is one of the ways we can show that love.
Knowing what you’ll need on the need on a ride if you get a flat is one way to show yourself that same love. Make sure to keep an up to date flat kit with you on all your rides and know how to use it. A kit should consist of:
- 1-2 tubes of the size you are currently riding (ex-29X2.25)
- A way to inflate said tube (Co2 or pump)
- A way to get the tire off (tire levers)
Anything added to that mixture is just icing on the cake. I like to add a pair of gloves to my commuting bag for chain drops or a patch kit to my long gravel bike kit “just in case” I get too crazy on the descents.