Recently, I took a neophyte triathlete friend of mine for a ride. She's still very new to the sport, having only completed one super sprint so far (but she won her age group!). She's so new to cycling, in fact, that she is still in that New Scared Rider Stage. It's the same stage that six mile seems like a long ride, that hill at the end of your street is a granny gear mountain, and you're super uncomfortable trying to fix anything on your bike because who knows how you're going to break it, but you are sure you will.
She did great. Her tires were much too under-inflated so we took care of that with help from a friend with a pump that lives nearby. Her seat post bracket was broken so we rode to a nearby bike shop with her sitting basically on the frame and replaced it, knees hitting her in the chest the whole way there, but she's so new she didn't realize how bad that was and how much harder she was making it on herself.
We rode probably eight or nine miles all told just around her neighborhood and she was fine. No complaining, game for different routes, and, most important, she listened to me babble at her.
It all got me thinking about a List Of Things New Cyclists Should Know/Do. I'm not the first one to come up with a list like this, but I want my swing.
Ride somewhere you've never been, or somewhere you think you know where you're going but you aren't sure. Explore. There is an element of childhood to riding a bicycle and before you had a car this was your means of exploration. Rediscover that.
Fix a Flat
On the side of the road, mid-ride, cars zipping by. It's going to happen. You're going to have to do it. Might as well get it out of the way.
Fix It Again
Welcome to the Most Frustrating Thing About Cycling. The learning curve on flat fixing can be brutally steep. You will miss something, some little sliver of glass in the tire, some piece of the tube sticking juuust out on the rim waiting to be pinched, and that tire is going to go flat again. I don't care how many YouTube videos you watched. Failure is learning. Welcome to class.
Visit Every Local Bike Shop
Then make a list of best to worst by customer service. You are going to be close with these people, you might as well find the friendly ones. Amazon is great when you don't need stuff in a hurry but when the race is tomorrow and you just discovered your tire is flat or you're out of air canisters these people will be your saviors. Be cool to them and find the ones that are cool to you. Pay a little more for friendlier service. That comes around.
Talk about riding. Be That Guy. Talk, tweet, blog, text, and find forums online. Make friends who also enjoy cycling. They are all over the place and will be fonts of information and motivation. Plus, it is safer to ride in a group.