If you’re like most people, you probably already know how to ride a bike. However, if you want to be a more avid cyclist, you probably have a lot to learn. Taking cycling seriously requires an understanding of not only bicycle mechanics, but also knowing how to utilize your bicycle’s features in different situations. Here are five important tips for anybody who wants to take cycling more seriously:
Learn to Change a Tire
A flat tire in the middle of a long bike ride is a rookie cyclist’s worst nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be yours. Don’t wait until disaster strikes miles away from home to learn how to change a tire -- practice changing your tires on your own. Any serious cyclist knows that with enough mileage, flat tires are inevitable, so it’s best to be prepared for the worst.
Get Fit to Your Bike
One of the biggest problems for new riders is a failure to have the bike set up correctly for their size. Any bike shop will be able to give you a quick fit in order to be sure you are not going to hurt yourself. Seat height and its location towards the front and back are important in order to avoid knee pain. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your leg is fully extended, but not stretching, on the bottom of your down-stroke.
Utilize Your Gears
A good cyclist knows exactly when and how to use his/her gears. Don’t play catch-up. Try to anticipate what gear you will need in the future and always be one step ahead of the terrain. If an uphill is coming up, begin to downshift; if you are approaching a downhill, start cranking up your gears to get better traction with your pedaling. Always remember to shift smoothly, taking a little pressure off the pedals whenever you change gears.
Sometimes taking a hard turn on a downhill can be intimidating. Remember to relax and lean the bike (not your body) into the turn, put your weight on the outside pedal and avoid pedaling through turns in order to avoid striking the ground if taken too quickly.
Don’t Forget to Drink
Bike rides and races can be long and arduous, so it’s always important to stay hydrated. Don’t want to stop in the middle of a ride? No need. Learn to reach down and drink from your water bottle without slowing down. Keep your eyes fixed on the road and pour the water into your mouth with one hand. If this is tricky at first, practice at lower speeds.