Tip 9: Unless you’re riding a mountain bike, no hydration systems!
There is this guy who frequently rides, no, speeds around my neighborhood, and he makes me break into hysterics every time I see him. It isn’t the fact that he wears the exact same cycling clothes every day, or the fact that he appears to be time trialing always, or the fact that when he is time trialing, he even does it on a crowded paved trail with pedestrians and slow cyclists, or the ridiculous yellow spoke Spinergy Spox wheels that he has; no, those reasons are not the source of my laughter. The primary thing about this guy which makes me guffaw is that he rides with a Camelbak, and the nozzle is perpetually hanging from his bearded mouth like those guitar voice box tubes that Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh used to rock in the seventies. It isn’t like this guy is on a ten hour ride where he needs tons of hydration; he rides to the neighboring town and back, albeit probably at breakneck pace, but still, it is ridiculous looking. Unless you are mountain biking, leave the hydration system at home.
If you are planning on doing a group ride, make sure you know common cycling etiquette. There are a lot of little things you pick up over the years, but the most important ones are:
- pointing out potholes and other objects in the road for the person behind (don’t ever bunnyhop potholes without forewarning those behind you – I was guilty of that behavior)
- indicate with your hand to people behind when the group ahead is slowing
- do not make abrupt and unannounced speed or direction changes
- never overlap wheels unless your handlebars are even with their thigh and they can see you
- if you get a flat in the middle of the pack, raise your hand, yell out “flat”, and hold your line until everyone has passed
- when standing out of the saddle, always pedal while simultaneously standing up to avoid a lag in momentum which can lead to the rider behind crashing into you.
- if you are in a fast group and don’t have the energy to pull the other riders, stay at the back out of the rotation. Nothing irritates experienced riders more than some yo-yo infiltrating their paceline.
Outlandish grimaces and other facial expressions are a must in pack riding.
Got all of that? Good. Now that you’re done with the article, go back and take detailed notes. There are more tips I could share, but the ones highlighted above will get you off to a respectable start and prevent you from being labeled as a greenhorn. So get out there and ride with people, because ultimately, observing the behavior of others is what’s most valuable in learning the ropes of cycling. Most importantly, get fit, have fun, and good luck!