I taught a private lesson this week to a new rider, someone who is very tentative on the bike. We started with the basics on the stationary trainer. How to stand up on the pedals while coasting and going straight, this might seem very basic, but I always tell clients that I can find people who cannot do what they can do, there are many who cannot even balance on 2 wheels! We all have our “next challenge” and whether you have been riding 2 months or 30 years, there is always something new to work on and master.
Coasting was a new skill and it took some time to get comfortable with it, check. Done after 20 minutes of practice and some changes to make the bike fit better. #2, Braking, how to shift weight back and really stop quickly, and then get a foot down. Not that easy, key is to start without being clipped in so you can put either foot down quickly.
We went on from there eventually adding clip-less pedals and tackling hills, but the thing that struck me, and that usually suprises me is how many small things you must master to really enjoy cycling. It is a technical sport, but once we master it we forget it was ever a problem and often end up on a plateau where we stop learning.
Where are you at and what do you need to work on to get to the next level? What are you focused on improving this season? Going faster downhill? Cornering more confidently, tackling steeper hills, riding no-hands, bunny hopping, jumps, some kind of new genre of cycling, standing up and jamming up VERY steep roads or trails, drafting off of a good rider at speed? Pick an area and focus on it, spend time working on it and soon you will step up to the next level and love cycling even more. There are always challenges to keep you sharp and progressing.
Spin to win,
One of the joys of riding a bicycle is using this machine to get exactly the most amount of speed from the energy you put into it. When we teach our hill climbing bootcamps or private lessons, one of the biggest things we teach people is how to shift correctly to maintain momentum, utilize all your cycling muscles at the right cadences and to be smooth so you don’t strain yourself with sudden changes. This is the art of cycling. Using the bicycle as a machine to propel you smoothly to go faster with less effort.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. As I was riding to work, going down a steep hill which led into an uphill, I had to keep it in my big ring and my cadence slowly dropped as I was going through the bottom of the hill, and starting to go upward. I then started shifting with my right shifter 2 gears at a time to make it easier, pedaling as I went, with the goal of keeping my cadence around 80 rpm and applying pressure to the pedals to carry speed
Bike fitting was once a service only racers sought out. These days anyone riding a bike can make massive improvements in comfort and performance with even a basic fitting if done by a good fitter. Saddles are often the most painful part of riding a bike but that is becoming a thing of the past. The Ass-o-meter from Specialized has solved many of these complaints. Now anyone wanting to be more comfortable can be sized for the correct width saddle (Specialized makes 4 widths of their better saddles, as well as offering different levels of padding for each) in less than a minute. The “ass-o-meter” consisting of gel pads that take an imprint of your sitz bones and measures them matching them to your ideal saddle width.
Dr. Andy Pruitt, Godfather of bike fitting and inventor of Ass-o-meter at Specialized
The next consideration after measuring your sitz bone width is how much padding do you need. It is counter-intuitive, but the longer you ride
Do you remember when cycling was exciting and new? When you got that little rush of excitement when you were gearing up and heading out to tackle a ride? Getting stoked on cycling is as easy as trying something new, and these days there is no shortage of new stuff to get excited about. The gear, the clothing, the electronics, the disc brakes, the fat bikes, the gravel. There are hundreds of splinter-cell cool things going on in cycling right now besides the traditional Road, Mountain, Cyclocross and Track, so pick one and get after it! You don’t have to race, you can just try out something new.
You have to be stoked and a little “in love” with the whole thing or it won’t keep you working. That is what keeps me coming back and finding fresh excitement for something I have done non-stop since 1985. I have been through 3 year obsessive phases in road racing, mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing, and that only got me to 1997. If you are starting off this season and not feeling the “Stoke” then you need to mix it up. Show up to a new ride, sign up for a new event, or try a different kind of cycling to keep it fresh and challenging. The cool thing is that when you come back to what you first loved, in my case Road cycling, it is fresh once again years later like returning from a long around the world trip to your home. Get out there and get stoked!!! – Check out Meet Up to find new things, here is our page to get you started that lists all our rides and clinics for the summer: Meet Up-Find cool groups or events to try near you
This Saturday May 2nd we do our Fix a Flat, lube your chain and basic maintenance clinic at West Seattle store 11-11:45am. We then lead a free shop ride at noon of about 20 miles with Head Coach Craig Undem. Learn to paceline and ride correctly along with finding a new route!
Sand Point shop there is a free ride at 11am, going to Seward Park and back from the shop. This is a classic “bread and butter” route that everyone needs to know, from here you can launch to Mercer Island, South end of Lake Washington or anything on the East Side. We don’t want to see anyone riding up through the Arboretum (down or North is OK if you are going fast) because there is no shoulder. Learn the right way to navigate through the North end to South Lake Washington by bicycle.
Our 11th anniversary sale also continues with everything in both stores on sale 20-60% through this weekend.
Ride with Cycle U
Other upcomming free events in May:
How to Fix a Flat and Lube your Chain, basic maintenance.
-Saturday May 2nd 11-11:30am West Seattle shop.
Try Road Racing! Clinic at Pacific Raceways. info at Budu Racing the race promoter website
-Tuesday May 5th 5:55pm AT Pacific Raceways
How to Commute by Bicycle or use it as basic transportation.
-Wednesday May 6th 6:30-7:15pm West Seattle shop.
Get Ready to Ride! safety, mechanical and fitting check on your bicycle
-Saturday May 9th 11-11:30am West Seattle AND Sand Point shops, same times at each.
Winning Cyclocross, the secrets to a winning season by Head Coach Craig Undem
-Tuesday May 12th 7:30-8:30pm Sand Point shop. Link to sign up, limited seating