Beginner Bike Riding Tips

Follow these words of wisdom and you'll feel like a pro in no time.

Group Riding

Before you join a group ride you should know how to change a flat tire and how to drink while riding. Always arrive 15 minutes early—the posted time is the time they usually leave the meet area. If it is your first ride with a group tell the leader and talk to the people on the ride if you're having trouble.

Know that the posted speed is the average speed, you may go faster and slower than that speed. During the ride be aware of people and obstacles around you. Always tell the ride leader or at least someone when leaving the group. If you ride in front of the ride leader, the leader is no longer responsible for you.

If you are in a pace line, keep it smooth: Don't brake, don't speed up when taking your turn at the front, be careful when standing up so not to cause your bike to kick back, point out obstacles, don't stare at the person's wheel in front of you, and please don't hit it. 

Do not try a ride longer than 50 percent more miles than you have previously ridden. If a you want to ride a century, you should build up to it by doing successively longer rides each weekend in the six weeks leading up to the big event.  

Cotton

Don't wear it unless absolutely necessary, that includes underwear. Bike shorts are designed to be in direct contact with your skin. The padded chamois usually has anti-microbial fabric. Cotton soaks up moisture and can cause chafing or blisters.

Tire Pressure

Check tire pressure before every ride. Riders often overlook pressurizing tires and ride on under inflated tires. This can increase the chances of pinch-flats. Inflating to the maximum pressure, however, is often too much. Tires that have too much pressure are more susceptible to punctures and wear faster. Also be careful about keeping your bike in the car in the summer, the tube may burst or go flat.

Chains

The chain is a critical part of the bike's performance and safety. Clean and lube it often. Most chains should be changed after about 2,000 miles but there are tools available to check for chain stretch. When purchasing a new chain, know if you need an 8, 9 or 10 speed chain. You will need a special chain tool to remove and replace the chain, unless you have a master link. Measure the new chain again the old chain once it is removed. If you are unsure how to do this, visit a local bike shop and they will replace the chain for you for a small fee.

Seat Height

Correct seat position allows for a slight bend, about 30 percent, in the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke. You're not supposed to reach the ground while sitting on the seat. A low saddle stresses the tendon that connects your kneecap to your tibia. A high position forces you to reach for the pedals, which can strain the tendons in the back of the knee, so if your knee hurts in the back, lower your seat. If it hurts in the front, raise your seat, but only move it in small increments until you reach the best height for you. All this assumes your bike is the correct size for you.

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