The Peddler: Figuring out Cycling Culture

I was trained as a journalist, so maybe it's natural for me to ask a lot of questions. But I'm amazed at how many questions I've had to ask as I get into cycling and train for the Rapha Women's 100 on July 26.

There's so much to know: No wonder I bailed on it years ago.

I know I'm not alone in this, as there's a lot to learn in this sport that seems so simple from the outside. But, once I started to get into it, it seemed like the questions never stopped.

For example:
How and when do I shift gears?
How am I supposed to be able to drink water while riding?
Do people cycle in the rain?
What's the right jargon? Cycle, ride, bike?
What's the proper fuel before a morning ride?
Why did I get judged for wearing a T-shirt on my first ride? Seriously, what's the big deal?
How do you know what kind of bike shorts to get?
When do I know I'm ready to clip in?
How fast should I be going?
How long does it take for this seat not to hurt anymore?
Do I look dorky for pulling my bike out of the back of my Jeep instead of pulling it off of a convenient bike mount?

A lot of these are pretty superficial (see last question) but some really do matter (see first question). One thing I have learned is cyclists are generally friendly and helpful.

Take my first ride: I went on a bike ride around the lake with my brother, Tyler. In the middle, he told me my seat was too low and that he'd adjust it when we got to the top of the upcoming hill.

We reached the top of said-hill; I got off, stood for about 45 seconds and realized I was feeling nauseated. Then, I really did get sick—not at all embarrassing to do in front of your older brother. But, he wasn't surprised and told me I was probably dehydrated. (I'm sure he was right, as every ride since then I've hydrated properly and felt perfectly fine.)

While we sat on the side of the trail, waiting for the color to return to my face, cyclists rode by, asking if we had everything we needed and if they could help in any way. Tyler politely told them no while I avoided eye contact from embarrassment.

More: Read the first article in The Peddler series

All the rides have been easier since then, and I'm ready to ride (or is it bike?) longer distances. I'm riding with a Rapha Ambassador, Bronwen Gregory. This woman has lived a pretty awesome life doing cycling tours around the world. And she's kind enough to encourage women to ride in Dallas. I was happy to join her weekly group to cycle around White Rock Lake.

What's even better is that she has been a great teacher in helping me answer all of those questions (I still need to get to the bottom of the T-shirt business, though). If you're considering cycling at all, I highly recommend looking for a group and riding with someone who is patient and will help you through all of the steps.

Countdown is on: just a little more than eight weeks until the 100K ride. Keep up with these stories on, on Twitter at @active and on Instagram at @activedotcom.

To find out more information about The Rapha Women's 100 or to pledge to ride July 26, visit Rapha's site.

Read more of The Peddler series:

New Rider Starts Training for Women's 100 Cycling Event

Falling is a Rite of Passage

The Benefits of Cycling for Women 

Active logoReady to Ride? Search for a cycling event.

Discuss This Article