Bart Haynes here, setting a few basic ground rules for getting started cycling that will save you major headaches (or body aches). I’m a big advocate for getting started with cycling on the right foot – or the right wheel, so to speak. I’ve learned many lessons the hard way because I picked up cycling on my own, and there simply weren’t the resources (videos/blogs) that there are now.
These are mistakes I made, and see first time riders make all the time. Even experience riders make these mistakes sometimes…
1. Wearing Underwear With Biking Shorts
I’ve spoken about this before. My first longish ride ever (40 miles), I wore my underwear under my bike shorts (experienced riders probably cringe). I had been wearing my underwear under my bike shorts for shorter rides, (~10 miles) when I first started riding.
What happens when you wear underwear and ride for extended periods? The most catastrophic chaffing you have ever had.
Lesson: don’t wear underwear. Furthermore, until you get very used to spending hours in the saddle, Chamois Cream is helpful when you first start riding.
2. Not Saying “On Your Left” When Passing
Even seasoned cyclists sometimes don’t say “on your left” while passing walkers, runners, or other cyclists. Heck, even I am sometimes guilty of it if I’m really tired and not paying much attention, but this is a rare case anymore. I used to be worse about it.
What changed? I ran into someone of course. A runner. Didn’t say “on your left,” and it just so happened that right as I passed him he swerved around a piece of dog poop and directly into my path. So I nailed him, not terribly hard, he was cool about it, and I apologized profusely.
I’d rather not make that mistake again, it could be bad.
3. Not Slowing Down When You Say “On Your Left” When Passing
I see cyclists all the time not saying On your left!Why? Two reasons:
- Some riders are simply not courteous or aware
- Sometimes inexperience path-goers react the opposite way you want them to when you say On your left!
One of the worst collisions that I’ve had was when I did sayOn your left!And a teenager jumped to her leftright in front of me. I hadn’t slowed down and plowed into her. This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s not uncommon for people to move to the left when you say On your left!
- Always say On your left!
- Pass with caution (slow down, expect that they are going to jump into your path)
4. Racing With Only One Water Bottle
Let me use a story to illustrate my point. It was my first cycling race ever. It happens to be a full century, 107 miles. It’s early, I’m still a little bit sleepy, a little nervous because I haven’t been able to get on the bike in the last month, and I’m about to ride twice as far as I’ve ever ridden.
The race starts. I’m close-ish to the front. I cross the start line and one minute later go around the first corner in that opens onto a long, downward slope where the pack is already starting to thin. I decide to wet my mouth for the beginning of the race as things open up.
I take a swig, and set my bottle back into the holder. Except I don’t set it into the holder, I set it next to the holder and it drops to the ground and is soon far behind me. I can’t go back, there are far too many cyclists. It’s a tough loss, but fortunately I had prepared with two water bottles, so I still have another one.
If I hadn’t had a water bottle, I would have been screwed.
Thanks for reading as always, fellow cyclists.