Yesterday I was having a good conversation with a friend about getting ready to ride bike again this spring. It’s been a few years and so he’s weighing his options: get the bike he’d really like to ride (high quality and ready to race), upgrade the 20 year old bike in his garage or find an entry level bike that may suit his needs now, but not in the future if he reaches his goals.
My first law of bicycle riding: if it’s not comfortable, you won’t ride so much.
- Pain and riding should only happen on rare occasions, (like when you push it too hard or crash hard), not on your normal, everyday rides.
- Make sure your bike fits. Get into your Local Bike Shop (LBS) and get them to help you. Bring your bike with you, so that they can assess your riding position and equipment.
- Know why you want to ride and where you expect to be riding. This helps you to not overpay or underbuy
- would you commute once a week or even daily?
- will you put it on a trainer in the winter?
- do you want to ride trails? or is highway riding/bike trails more your interest?
- Don’t get your bike from a department store, or even a general sports store. Pay a little more for the expertise of an LBS, support the local economy and you’ll never be sorry. If I don’t know the person who put the bike together, I don’t trust them. Most department stores hire guys with a tool box or get the 17 year old summer staff to put the bikes together. The money you save on the purchase price, you’ll pay in enjoyment. (If you get on your bike 50 times this year, paying $50 more for a better bike is only $1 for each ride).
- What distinguishes bikes is in what you can’t see. The difference between a Ford and a BMW is significant, but only if you know what you’re looking at. They’re both cars. It’s the same with bikes – don’t get mesmerized by the paint colour, price tag, or what you see the pros riding.
- Helmet, gloves and padded shorts. I don’t think I need to say much more than that!
My second law of bicycle riding: have a buddy.
- You are 100% more likely (50% of fitness participants drop out by half way through a course) to continue riding if you have a buddy who you can ride with on a regular basis. Some of us need the competition, some of us need the camaraderie, some of us need the conversation – regardless, you’ll do better with a buddy.
- It’s easier than ever to find a buddy. I’ve been logging my rides on Strava.com – with my GPS I can just upload my ride and my friends can see what I’m doing. There are even segments that everyone on Strava is racing against (you can set up your favourite segment and set a record – until some 22 year old courier flies through it and demolishes your score. If you sign up (I’m just on the free account) let me know and we’ll find each other.
- Plan together to do a significant ride or race. I’m hoping to take my kids and wife on a family bike trip this summer, it’ll keep us riding and focused.
My third law of bicycle riding: it’s a lot cheaper than therapy.
- Every time I spend a little money for new tires, gloves, padded shorts, or even lights I’m thinking, $100/hr for a counsellor who’s a new grad or a few hours on my bike? I get time to think, breath fresh air, pump toxins out of my veins and burn enough calories to enjoy ice cream, chocolate, coffee and beer.
- We’ve all got addictions. Those things we do to cope with stress and struggle. Cycling is a coping tool that has positive effects on my body, my social relations, my family and my wallet.
- Most counselors will agree with me that community is key to good mental health. Cycling has many marvellous communities – racers, commuters, couriers, students, kids, grandparents, coffee shop aficionados and even sports fans. If you’re riding 2 wheels, you can find friends who will help you, push you, encourage you and drink good coffee with you.
How about you, do you have any laws or suggestions about getting back on your bike this spring? And, no Strava isn’t paying me – but let me know if you’re on. Let’s start a Life on the Front Porch Riding Team!
- Cycling advocates call for ‘rolling stops’ at intersections (theprovince.com)