Joining the cycling world as a complete newbie can be an intimidating experience. Many of your peers have expensive bikes, are dressed in cutting-edge apparel...and even have terminology all their own. Group rides are a whole different monster, with the unwritten rules of pacelines and etiquette and the like.
How is a rookie supposed to jump right in?
Patrick Brady saw that as a potential problem for newcomers, so he went to work. The result is a 250-page reference guide called The No-Drop Zone which is jam-packed with information for those looking to start road cycling—particularly those wanting to join group rides, the most social of the cycling experiences.
"I think group rides is where the sport is at its best," Brady said. "Racing is cool. I learned a lot about myself from racing. But in terms of something that continues to provide me happiness, helps me keep some weight off and gives me a social infrastructure that makes my life better, that all comes from group rides."
Brady has been cycling for 20-plus years and has worked for several bicycling publications like Asphalt magazine, Bicycle Guide and The Ride. So it's impressive that he was able to turn over every stone that might be second nature to him but pop up as a concern for someone far less experienced.
The 30-chapter book, which features hundreds of explanatory photographs to aid the instruction, took 3 years for Brady to conceptualize and put together. Some of his research included going out on group rides with newcomers and refreshing his memory on what may be intimidating and unclear to them.
The book has sections on riding skills (group riding, cornering, clipping in, finding organized events), bike gear (purchasing tips, bike fitting, clothing and accessories) and the cycling lifestyle (training, diet, etiquette, travel).
The back of the book features common (or not so common) cycling lexicon, gear charts, sample training plans for century rides, recommended websites and books for further reading, and even an introduction to pro racing and the relevant storylines from the pro circuit.
Overall, The No-Drop Zone is a handy piece of reference for someone looking to become a cyclist and wanting to enter the world feeling comfortable.
"The idea behind the book was kind of a 'road cycling 101' to create the ultimate entry-level text for people," Brady said. "I've seen beginner books for bicycling, but they were kind of skill-sy, and I wanted something that explained why you need these skills, how they're applicable."