15 Things a Beginning Cyclist Should Do

Little Hills/Big Hills

There are hills in your neighborhood that look like mountains. Hills that suck to climb. Attack them. Ride them. Suffer and strengthen. Graduate to bigger hills. Then, in six months, go back to that first brutal hill and zip up it thinking, "What was so bad about that?"

Don't Apologize for Being New

Everyone was new once. Even Lance sucked for a little while. Ride in a group and try to keep up. If they are cool then they won't complain, or they'll drop you then wait a few miles up the road or at the top of the climb. Everyone remembers their struggles at the start. Ride, don't complain, and try.

Adjust Your Own Bike

It feels so good to buy a book or look online and then get in there and make adjustments. Your instincts and this book say your seat should be higher? Raise it.

Take Your Bike to the Shop

Make the adjustments, feel right but weird, talk yourself into being positive you did something wrong and a horrible tragedy is waiting around the next pedal stroke, take the bike to the shop, watch them make miniscule adjustments, and feel better about your instincts. A proper bike fit changes your life, but you won't know it until you feel it.

Fall Over Unclipping

We all have done it. You'll do it too. Forget to unclip, do the slow unstoppable fall to one side, get up, glance around like you meant to do that, and move on.

More: How to Get Comfortable With Clipless Pedals

Find Chain Grease Somewhere

"What the? How did I get grease on my elbow? And I swear I scrubbed it off my calf. Wait a minute...my chain isn't even on that side of my bike!"

Conquer a Small Mechanical Problem Using Only a Multi-Tool

Your seat slips. An aero bar loosens. Your chain gains sentience and tries to make a break for it. Bust out that multi-tool in your pocket or seat bag and fix it right there on the side of the road. Leave your helmet on, don't trust cars, then get back out there.

More: 10 Bike-Fix Essentials

Keep a Small Version of Your Stuff With You

George Carlin did a routine about Stuff. You need a small Bike Version of your Stuff. Money, ID, cell phone. So you can buy a snack, a drink, or an emergency supply. So people know who you are. So you can call for help when you blow your second spare tube 10 miles from home. Ziploc baggie, back pocket, ready to go.

Ride Somewhere Pretty

No matter where you live there is somewhere pretty you can ride to. Find it, ride there, take cell phone pictures and text them to your friends who slept in with snarky, superior, only half-joking messages about how awesome you are and how cool where you stopped is.

Have Fun

Of course! This should be fun. Like I mentioned right at the start, you are basically using a grown-up version of a child's toy. Sometimes you need to stop and remember that.

More: 10 Things I Wish I Knew From the Start

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