Like any new hobby, there will always be more than meets the eye. For many novice cyclers, the concept of getting on a bike and riding down the street is just the mere surface of the sport. In fact, much of the tricks of the trade are learned through word of mouth or by demonstration. But what if you were never informed? What if there was no one to show you the ropes? To better prepare for your next ride, I have compiled the five top things every cyclist should know.
1. Mending a Punctured Tire
If you haven’t already dealt with this problem, you are lucky. The good thing is that now you can handle this problem head on rather than taking it to a professional to get it fixed. Start off by turning over your bike and locating the cause and size of the puncture. If the tire is blown out or has a hole, it will have to be replaced. But if it is a small puncture, for instance a steel nail, often it can be fixed. Begin the process by spinning the tire slowly. Look for anything sticking out such as a nail or a piece of wood. Once you have located the cause, release the air out of your tire. Once the wheel is completely deflated, pry the tire off of the rim. Then lift the tube out of the tire. Be careful not to rip the valve stem off. Then pump enough air into the tube to inflate it to find the leak. The best way for finding the hole is by feeling or listening for air escaping the tire. Once you have located the hole, buff the area where you will install the patch. Then spread a thin layer of glue around the puncture site. Wait till it dries, then slide it back on to the tire, re-inflate, and you are ready to go.
2. Riding in the Wind
For many novice cyclers, they do not fully grasp the power of the wind until they are in an incredibly inopportune situation. In cycling, the wind can be one of your biggest enemies. The reason why is that it can sway you into losing your balance. To prevent this, know which direction the wind is going. If the wind is coming from the left, be sure to place your front wheel slightly to the right and vise verse. In addition, utilize your gears to leverage a strong and consistent pace.
3. Utilizing your Gears
Many novices underuse their gears by pedaling away on a higher gear. This not only exhausts much of your energy, but also slows down your speed. The key is to efficiently utilize the right gears for the right speed. For climbing hills or steep slopes, make sure you take full advantage of a low gear setting. This will allow you to gain control of your bike, while also moving steadily with less effort. For everyday terrain, utilize your middle gear. Last but not least, for descending landscape, switch to your high gear. This will give you much acceleration and will allow you to travel a long way for each turn of the pedal.
4. Bicycle Maintenance
To get the best long-term value of your bike, make sure you maintain and clean from time to time, especially after any long ride runs. Start by spraying your chain with a cleaner and degreaser with a rag. Once that is done, hose down your bike and wash the bike frame and wheels for any dirt and marks. When you rinse your bike, be delicate. Make sure you are not shooting high pressure water. This can damage the bearings or shock seals of your bike. After you are done, dry your bike and be sure to properly lubricate your chain and other components needed.
5. Look up as you Ride
For many novice riders, they focus on looking at the pedals or the overall scenery than looking directly up at where they are going. While as much as you want to focus primarily on your riding, you also need to make sure you are looking up as you go. Allow your peripheral vision to take care of the setting around you. Use your vision and focus to look out for any bumps or objects down the road that can impact your ride.