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Tip 3: Buy cycling clothes that fit
Okay, if you are new to cycling, and you’re a bit uncomfortable about the whole lycra thing, then you’d better suck it up. Don’t go out and buy clothing two sizes larger than what you wear on the street. Cycling is about aerodynamics. You need tight fitting clothes. If you wear a large t-shirt, get a medium jersey. Sometimes the fit is a bit different between brands, so try them on first. Riding down the road with a jersey as aero as a parachute will make any seasoned cyclist holler “tenderfoot ahoy!” In addition, as far as jackets, no, the orange rain poncho which you wore to the Steeler game last week is not appropriate rain gear attire. Get a clear cycling rain jacket. It is far more aero and far less ridicule inducing. Also, if you have a loose fitting jersey, don’t go making matters worse by tucking it into your bib shorts. This isn’t wrestling.
Tip 4: Shave the legs
Obviously this tip is targeted for the guys, however, if you are a girl, and haven’t heeded this tip yet in your life, then maybe cycling is a great excuse and a God-send for your spouse. I know it sounds crazy, but if you are a cyclist with hairy legs, people will ride ten feet away from you and avoid conversation. It may sound shallow, but it’s the truth. Nobody should judge a book by its cover, or a cyclist by their leg hair, but it happens.
On a related note, I am often asked why cyclists shave their legs. Contrary to rumor, it is NOT for added aerodynamics – although it might play a miniscule factor. The real reason is avoiding the “Velcro effect” on your legs during a pavement slide and for ease of cleanup after experiencing an eventual fall.
Tip 5: Avoid “rookie marks”
Nothing gives away newbie status more than someone with “rookie marks” – greasy chain marks on your inner calf muscles. This often happens when someone doesn’t keep their chain clean and has an inefficient cycling posture, spin, or tries to clip out of the pedal towards the inside. To avoid rookie marks, keep your chain clean. Wipe it down often and use clear chain wax products like White Lightning which don’t turn your chain into a black grimy mess. Also make sure that you are cleaning the cogset and chainrings also to avoid getting cogset grime on your nice clean chain.
Tip 6: Pick the right accessories
Some accessories make a cyclist look cool, while others make them look tool. For instance, any saddle bag that you can actually fit your saddle into is way too big. Any more than two water bottle cages on a bike is overkill (unless you are a triathlete in training). Any cyclo-computer with more wires on it than your home PC is verboten. Pro cyclists go wireless, make sure you do too. Polar makes a heart rate monitor and wireless cyclo-computer with a cadence meter all in one device; that’s pro. Avoid all rear-view mirror related devices regardless of whether they mount on your helmet or handlebar – it’s a major nicht-nicht. Besides, do you really want to see yourself getting hit by a car? I’d rather not know.
Old school or complete tool? Its hard to tell. Nice ski goggles.
Tip 7: Dump the reflectors and “plastic ring”
If you just bought a brand new bicycle, congratulations! The first thing you must do once the bike arrives home is to remove all reflectors from the bike as well as the plastic ring which protects the top cog from the spokes in your rear wheel. If the bike is properly maintained and dialed-in, the ring is unnecessary, and it looks silly. Failure to comply with this advice will result in excessive finger pointing, hand-covered giggling, and cruel people shining flashlights at your bike. If you do heed this warning just be responsible enough to not sue anyone if you are riding at night like a numbskull with no lights and get hit by a car. Yes, that actually happened once, and the plaintiff won a multi-million dollar suit against a major bike manufacturer for making “faulty reflectors”.
Tip 8: Practice with your clipless pedals
Before going out on the road, if you have clipless pedals and are using them for the first time, practice in your driveway or backyard for a few hours beforehand. There is nothing more embarrassing than flopping over like a beached whale at an intersection for hundreds of people to see. Trust me, it’s ego crushing. It happens to almost everyone at least once, but by practicing, you are lowering the risk of this total rookie blunder.
Not practicing with your clipless pedals before riding leads to certain peril.