Got a bike for Christmas... now what?

Discussion in 'Horn Depot' started by EllCee, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. EllCee

    EllCee 100+ Posts

    I've wanted a road bike for awhile and hinted around to a few people [​IMG]. Ended up getting some gift certificates to a bike shop and getting a used bike and a new helmet.

    I have tons of questions. I probably haven't ridden a bike since I was 15.

    - Etiquette: I assume this is pretty simple. Hand signals, stay right if you're slow, follow traffic laws.

    - Equipment: I have a water bottle and the holder for it already mounted on the bike. I know I'm going to need one of those small bags that goes on the bike that has tire repair stuff. What exactly do I need? I'm guessing some sort of tire repair compound, an air pump, and maybe a spare tire folded up? Anything else?

    - Other than the veloway, are there any places that you guys would recommend to go for a "beginner"? I'm in good shape cardio wise, I'm not worried about tough or hilly terrain. I'm more worried about getting my bike legs under me and "learning how to ride again" preferably on lesser used/slower roads at first, before I hit the more heavily trafficked areas like 360 and whatnot. My ultimate goal is to bike 10 miles to and from work every day (straight shot up 360 from Travis Country), but I'm not going to do that until I'm a little more experienced.

    - Does anyone ride with an iPod? I'm assuming this is really a stupid question and incredibly unsafe, but I've been wrong plenty before. Maybe one earbud in so you can still hear around you?

    Any other advice for a beginner would be appreciated. Like I said, I can handle hilly terrain, but I want to really get a feel for a bike and maneuvering around safely before I hit the more trafficked areas that could be dangerous for a newbie. Any equipment suggestions, good places to go ride, or general tips would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. El Sapo

    El Sapo Bevo's BFF

  3. EllCee

    EllCee 100+ Posts

  4. idigTexas

    idigTexas 1,000+ Posts

    Get a nice all-in-one multi-tool to put in your bag. Topeak, Park, and Pedro's all make good ones.

    Carry a couple of spare tubes. It's far easier to replace the tube than to try and patch it, especially on the road. Why 2 spares? Because **** happens, and a second flat is much more likely than the first one was (you may pinch the new tube while changing it or fail to remove the debris from the tire which caused the first flat).

    Get a patch kit. Once the second spare goes, the patch kit is all that stands between you and walking home. Yes, getting 3 flats on the same ride does happen. Don't ask me how I know. I don't want to talk about it.

    Get a decent frame pump that can handle the PSI you'll need for your road tires. You'll be tempted by the air cartridges, but they are horribly wasteful and you'd need to carry as many or more of them as you do spare tubes. I've loaned my pump to more stranded cartridge users than I can count.

    Practice changing a flat before you go for a ride. Your first tire changing experience should not be while you are miles from home, especially if you didn't heed my previous advice. There are numerous "how to" guides online. Google for one that you understand.

    If your new ride only has one water bottle cage, you are going to outgrow that pretty quickly. This is Texas. It gets hot. Hydration is your friend. Put an energy drink in one bottle and water in the other. Alternatively, you can get a small Camelback, though few road cyclists use them.

    If your bike does not have clipless pedals, this is the best upgrade you can make. You'll definitely want to get the hang of them before riding in traffic, but once you get used to them, you'll wonder how you rode without them.

    While shaving your legs is optional, do not forgo the lycra shorts. Cycling shorts are designed that way for a reason. Your *** will thank you later, especially if you intend to ride on consecutive days. Mountain bike shots while less emasculating, aren't as functional for hours in the saddle, so don't let modesty steer you in that direction.

    Gloves. You should have some. More expensive is not necessarily better. Find some that are comfortable and that don't restrict circulation.

    Etiquette. You are right on the money. Take the lane if your safety demands it. Be accommodating to the larger vehicles if it doesn't jeopardize your safety. Stop at lights and stop signs. Go when it is your turn. Be assertive and confident, but obey the traffic rules and don't be stupid. If a car doesn't look like it is going to yield to you, then yield to it.

    Leave the iPod at home.

    I haven't lived in Austin in 6 years, so I'm not sure where you can safely get your bike legs. I would download the Austin Bicycle Map and stick to the green routes until your confidence and bike handling skills develop.

    Charity rides. Do some. Seriously. It's hard to explain what is so cool about them, but once you do one you'll get it.
  5. pmg

    pmg 1,000+ Posts

    idigtexas has some great suggestions.

    I learned to get comfortable with clipless pedals by putting my bike in my hallway and practicing getting on, off, and balancing with them on. If you fall, you just fall over a few inches.

    Wearing an ipod while riding is like riding without a helmet. Sure, you can do it and I see people doing it all the time, but it's just not smart. I'm waiting for the first cyclist I see blow through a busy stop sign while texting on his iPhone.

    Also, when you come to an intersection, motorists can't see you move your eyes, so turn your head to let them know you are looking.

    The Shoal Creek area has lots of places to ride in residential areas, even at rush hour--you don't have to stay on Shoal Creek Blvd.

    You'll want to discuss riding on 360 with some experienced bikers I think.

    See ya at the burnt orange bike tour next year.
  6. Mike_Tyson

    Mike_Tyson 500+ Posts

    Kind of echoing:
    You can buy a little fix-it pack that mounts to the bottom of your seat at any cycle shop.
    Always, always wear your helmet.
    While shaving your legs might not be something you want to do...have fun healing yourself for when you fall.

    What I suggest now is for you to go get fitted to your bike. There really is a science to this. Get a new seat. The most plush, biggest seat for your *** might physically hurt you in the long run. Your testicles might start to go numb. Go to a cycle shop and sit on a pad that will measure your butt bones distance and the depth of your pelvic area. They will be able to find the seat for you...most likely Specialized. I have pretty much Specialized everything. While cost is important, if you're going to spend extra money on something spend it on your seat. I cannot stress the importance of the right seat for you enough.
  7. jmatt

    jmatt 1,000+ Posts

  8. baboso

    baboso 250+ Posts

    Good suggestions all. I would add that if the bike shop did not run a fit kit when you bought the bike, pay the charge and get it done. Also, buy a good floor pump in addition to the portable frame pump previously mentioned.
  9. Mike_Tyson

    Mike_Tyson 500+ Posts

    Get CO2 shots to put on your bike as well.
  10. ScoPro

    ScoPro 1,000+ Posts

    Get a Sammy Allred detector with a loud warning siren.
  11. zzzz

    zzzz 2,500+ Posts

    Wear bright clothing that is highly visible.

    Make sure your used bike has reflectors on the front, back and wheels for those times when you have three flat tires and are late getting home.

    Night rides are fun (and much cooler during the summer) but require an adequate lighting system. There are new systems that are bright enough to be seen at a distance by motorists.
  12. mihm_rules_mom

    mihm_rules_mom 25+ Posts

    I always made sure I had these on a ride: my cell phone and my ID. I was nearly hit once and would have been left for dead.

    NCAAFBALLROX 1,000+ Posts

    IMO, there are very few things that are fun to do solo & bike riding is high on the list of a social thing.

    Get one of the free local bike enthusiast magazines / papers @ your bike shop of choice & look for a beginners ride somewhere convenient to you.

    I've been out of the biking scene for more than a few years (was going off onthe mtn bike thing), but it was a very helpful community. When you're on a ride with 4 other people, it makes for a much safer time as you're easier to see in traffic (just stay on the right side of traffic laws & we won't see discussions about you on West Mall or Esther's).

  14. MilkmanDan

    MilkmanDan 1,000+ Posts

  15. AUinAustin

    AUinAustin 250+ Posts

    A few thoughts
    1. try out your tire pump. Also make sure that you know how to use it without breaking off the valve stem - which is very easy to do on the side of the road.
    2. Toss 20 bucks in the toolkit in case you break off the stem and need a cab
    3. Don;t even think of an ipod-
    4. While it looks easy - stay off 360. Those hills are not nearly as easy as they look -especially with the wind we have been having.
    5. I second they comment on seats. Don't assume the big plush one is good. It took me 6 months to find one I liked. Luckily the store had a liberal trial policy.
    6. When you go clipless - practice on small side streets.
  16. EllCee

    EllCee 100+ Posts

    Thanks for the tips everyone. Really helpful!

    I went and did the veloway this morning before going into work. It was a lot of fun and a good place to get the feel for the bike and whatnot. At first it was a little weird, since I hadn't ridden in forever, but I got the hang of it quickly. I had no idea that huge hill was coming and was in first gear (and hadn't mastered shifting on the first lap) and didn't even make it all the way up. [​IMG]. Once I knew to gain momentum and how to shift, it was a piece of cake though.

    I got most of the stuff recommended. 2 spare tubes, repair kit, and I bought the cartridge things (although I might go buy an air pump too). I already have a Leatherman multitool so I'll just bring that along.

    My *** started to get sore, I probably will end up getting a fitted seat. The other thing I noticed is that my palms got sore from pushing down on the handlebars. Does that mean I need to lower the seat?

    Other than that, I can see why cycling is such a growing sport. I had a blast. Can't wait to do some more challenging routes (although I'll probably do the veloway for a few more weeks just to get accustomed to it).

    Thanks a lot everyone.
  17. EllCee

    EllCee 100+ Posts

    Oh, and what are the differences between pedals?

    This bike just has regular old pedals. My feet did slip a little when I upshifted... but I was wearing and old pair of Nu Balance running shoes. [​IMG]
  18. pmg

    pmg 1,000+ Posts

  19. Math Mudrat

    Math Mudrat 250+ Posts

    Do you ever take it off any sweet jumps?
  20. MilkmanDan

    MilkmanDan 1,000+ Posts

  21. AUinAustin

    AUinAustin 250+ Posts

    Fpr the hands you can buy some cheap half gloves with gel. I also added a second layer of tape to the handlebars from more padding. I would stay away from clipless pedals until you are much more comftorable on the bike. Plus with any type of decent shoes its over a hundred bucks. I would invest ten bucks in a pump before the cartridges but that my opinion.
  22. happy fun ball

    happy fun ball 100+ Posts

    EllCee what kind of used bike did you get?
  23. axle hongsnort

    axle hongsnort 250+ Posts

  24. scottsins

    scottsins 1,000+ Posts

    name your bike Death.
  25. happy fun ball

    happy fun ball 100+ Posts

    Agreed on the 2 flat maximum. If you have a third either borrow from a riding partner or a passerby, or call it a day and cab home.
  26. pmg

    pmg 1,000+ Posts

    That's a long cab ride from Smithville...
  27. GHoward

    GHoward 2,500+ Posts

    I would also suggest getting the clipless pedals. It's not too too hard to figure them out. Most pedals have adjustable tension, so you can start them out soft, and your foot will almost fall out of the pedal, then slowly tighten them up as you get used to the motion. After a while you won't even think about it anymore, it'll just be natural. Look for sales online and you should be able to pick up a set of pedals and shoes for less than $100.
    I personally like CrankBros EggBeater pedals.
  28. happy fun ball

    happy fun ball 100+ Posts

    Oh yeah, clipless pedals are an absolute must. Until you use them you have no idea what a difference they make in terms of power and comfort. I'd get cheap double sided SPD's and MTB shoes to start, since the shoes are easier to walk in than "road" shoes, and the double sided SPD's make it a little easier to clip in, none of that toe flip to set it up.
  29. EllCee

    EllCee 100+ Posts

  30. pmg

    pmg 1,000+ Posts

    Do you mean a mandatory right turn lane? Often in Austin there is a sign, "Right Lane Must Turn Right Except for Bicycles."

    If not, according to the City, the bike lane ends before the intersection explicitly for the purpose of forcing you to merge with traffic through the intersection.

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