With the holiday season nearly here, I thought I would include a few tips to help you avoid looking like the geeky new guy on the next group ride, even if it’s going to be a while before the weather warms up. These tips may help you formulate a solid Christmas “wish” list to mail to Santa and avoid public ridicule.
1. No Pro Kits–Do you ride for Team Radio Shack or Astana??? Probably not, and not too many things scream rookie like wearing these overpriced kits. Support your local bike shop, or maybe match with the kit with your current road machine or favorite beer. Sleeves are a must, this isn’t a triathlon. If you absolutely must have a Pro Kit, go old-school. In fact you’ll probably earn some extra cool points.
2. Make sure your cycling clothes are the right size. This sport is about aerodynamics, and Lycra and spandex are just part of it. Be comfortable in your attire and remember it is supposed to fit tightly. Baggy shorts and jerseys simply don’t cut it. For more comfort, some like bib shorts which have suspender type straps. But, unlike suspenders, these are supposed to go UNDER your jersey or top. Huge rookie mistake and you should you opt for this fashion statement, prepare yourself for hours of ridicule and jokes at your expense on future rides.
This is not cool!!!
3. Practice clipping in and out of your pedals before the group ride! If you are new to “clipping in” (this is where the cycling shoe actually has a piece that snaps into the pedal) definitely practice before you fall in front of your peers. Hey, we have all fallen and scratched up our new road speed machine while learning how to do it. It happens, just make sure that it doesn’t happen when everyone else is around. When coming to a stop in a group ride it can be really embarrassing just falling over because you didn’t/couldn’t clip out.
4. Avoid “Dork Marks”! These are the marks you get on your calf muscles (usually on your right leg) from a greasy chain or chain ring. They leave perfect marks and this will be a give-a-way of your inexperience! To prevent this, perform regular maintenance and clean your bike. Wipe down the chain and then apply a light coating of lube. If you still end up getting dork marks around your peers, treat it like a bugger hanging out your nose–wipe it off casually and don’t draw attention to it!
5. Ditch the plastic ring and reflectors! When most bikes are purchased, there is a little plastic ring between the rear wheel and the cassette (these are your gears). You’ll need a specialized tool to remove your cassette, so maybe just ask the wrench (mechanic) at the bike shop to remove it for you. Now for the reflectors–I know you’re asking yourself, “Ryan, don’t those reflectors make us visible to traffic?” They sure do, but why are you riding at a time of low light? Riding in conditions of low visibility is a bad idea and very dangerous! If you must ride at night, then you’ll also need a headlight, tail light and reflective clothing. If this is you, just remember to remove these items when going on your group ride.
This list could go on and on, but that is a great starting point! A great helmet, some gloves, sunglasses, and a couple water bottles and you are ready to go! I’ll be looking for you out on the group rides, and if you are violating any of the above points, I’ll kindly point you to this blog….after a few jokes. Ride safe!!