Bike riding starts out simple. It’s one of the joys of childhood. I still remember my pink-and-white bicycle. It had a wicker basket on the front that I could never figure out what to do with. To this day, I’m not sure what should have gone in the basket while I pedaled back and forth down my street. So the poor basket just stayed empty and was eventually removed.
Fast-forward to today.
My bike’s seat bag is chocked full of tubes, cartridges, tire levers etc., and the cycling jerseys (that I insist on wearing) have deep pockets to keep food, a sunscreen stick, and other must-haves within reach.
And instead of coasting down the neighbor’s driveway, legs stuck out in front, the adult me seeks advice and compares notes with other riders and pedals down well-trafficked streets that my parents do not approve of.
Has riding lost its simplicity in adulthood? Maybe a tad. Is it less fun than childhood riding? Not to me. Can’t ride around on the neighbors’ property with an empty basket forever.
Plus, I’ve gotten some excellent suggestions and tips along the way. Some came from magazines, some from fellow riders, some from bicycle-shop staff.
My favorite suggestions and tips for biking
Mini-Cokes give energy. Like a turbo booster.
While there is much ado about the sugar content of Cokes, I defend them here. But I admit I was a little skeptical when I read in a runner’s magazine that Coke is a great endurance fuel. While I’ve yet to muster the courage to run and drink a Coke, I figured I could break myself in by trying one on a long bike ride.
I purchased a mini-Coke and wrapped it in foil to preserve the coolness (that didn’t work by the way).
I stopped to drink the warm Coke about an hour into my ride. I posted to social media “I’m about to get a serious boost or a seriously upset stomach.”
My stomach was fine, and I got a boost that I could actually feel.
It was astounding.
Get Clipless Pedals.
Once you get the hang of clipless pedals, there is no going back.
Power is better when you go clipless, because with both feet attached to the pedals, both feet can continue to work. What I mean is that without that attachment, each foot works only half the time. There’s nothing for the foot on the up-stroke to do except wait for the down-stroke!
Clips (foot cages) also help with this, but by being so top heavy, some clips tend to swing upside down when you put a foot on the ground. No big deal. Just an extra job to do on takeoff. Plus, because you will need to put a foot down at barely a moment’s notice sometimes, the cage can never be quite snug enough to hold the foot solidly on the pedal.
Find a grassy area to practice clipless pedals. You will fall. Likely more than once.
This is excellent advice that needs no further explanation.
Do not attack the hills. Learn to spin.
It seems counterintuitive when working on power and speed, but you net better gains by dropping the gear and spinning on inclines rather than mashing and thrashing a high gear on your way up.
Strength gains are increased and energy conservation will be better once that hill is finally crested.
It’s easy to practice it on an indoor trainer, too. Find a moderate gear, and hold a steady cadence of around 80-90 rpm.
Now go enjoy the ride!