What do you wish you'd realized earlier about cycling?

Akage38

Cruising
Mar 20, 2012
42
0
16
Tokyo
#1
I have a question on which I'd love to hear some answers, if anyone is willing to share... my question is, what do you know now that you wish you'd realized/learned earlier, to do with anything cycling related? (technique, gear, bikes, maintenance, etc. etc.)
Essentially as a beginner I hope to learn from your mistakes, without actually having to make them myself ;)
(N.B. I am of the lazy shortcut generation that learns to play Guitar Hero not guitars!)

Although you will be hard-pressed to be much more beginner-ish than me, I will start the ball rolling anyway... I wish I had known earlier that constantly mashing away at the pedals in a super-high gear does not necessarily equate to good technique, fast speed or particularly magnificent gains in fitness (I understand that trying to do this is a common mistake amongst misinformed beginners).

A friend of mine also shared his own nugget of wisdom with me - he wishes he'd realized earlier that cycling shorts are supposed to be worn with nothing underneath (and in telling me this he also saved me no end of chafing!)

So, unless you are of the old-school crowd that believes I should have to learn the hard way, care to share anything you wish you had known earlier?
:cool:
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,669
481
103
Japan
#2
A good motor will beat a good bike 99 times out of a 100.
A lighter motor will beat a heavier motor.

There two for one.
 

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
54
48
Tokyo
#3
Anybody next to you (e.g climbing up a hill) is suffering at least the same as you ... tend to constantly forget about this one though :eek:.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#4
Bike mechanics

-Read the manuals of every bike part with the parts in front of you to understand how they work.

-Don't over-tighten things :cool:

-Wear latex gloves when working on your bike

-Buy the most expensive tools you can afford. Your bike with thank you and you will save money in the long run.

-Don't lend your tools to anyone; if they want to use them, they have to come to you place, use them there with you present, then put them back where they got them from.

-Don't work on your bike in the conservatory of your Mum's house when she has just laid down light beige carpet, or she will go absolutely mental.

Riding

-When riding off road, if you tense up and look at an obstacle, you WILL crash into it. Ride through and over.

-Eat breakfast.

-Entering a race is more fun than it is scary, and the worst you can do is come last / not finish, and if you do, who cares.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,434
879
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#5
When you're going far ( > 1 hour), drink water and eat food before you're hungry or thirsty or exhausted. Otherwise you'll needlessly hit the wall. Your body needs hydration and food and your stores are limited.
 

Malte

Maximum Pace
Sep 26, 2011
496
54
48
Tokyo
#6
Anybody next to you (e.g climbing up a hill) is suffering at least the same as you ... tend to constantly forget about this one though :eek:.
... and related:
"Don't show it when you suffer, always smile" (that includes not to puke !!! - still arguing with Tim about this one though ;))
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#7
Agree with that, joewein!

I think back to my teenage years, when I used to go on super fast singletrack adventures through the home counties, riding a lot of KM, off road, with dirt jumping sessions in the middle, with no breakfast, and the only food I had all day was 3 quids worth of chocolate bars from the little shop in Aldbury village next to the pond.

Oh to be young again.

Eat as you go along, and drink loads of water.
 

joewein

Maximum Pace
Oct 25, 2011
2,434
879
133
Setagaya, Tokyo
joewein.net
#8
If you want to go fast, avoid high torque, low RPM pedalling. Don't stay in the highest gear you can still push - a higher cadence with a lower gear and reasonably light pedalling provides more power sustained for longer.
 

TimeTraveler

Maximum Pace
Feb 6, 2012
397
103
73
Koto-ku, Tokyo
#9
I have a question on which I'd love to hear some answers, if anyone is willing to share... my question is, what do you know now that you wish you'd realized/learned earlier, to do with anything cycling related? (technique, gear, bikes, maintenance, etc. etc.)
I wish I had joined a cycling club like TCC before I purchased my first bike.:warau: The information I received from threads since joining the club has been very helpful.:bike:
 

kpykc

Speeding Up
Jun 13, 2007
804
4
38
38
Tokyo
#10
If you want to go fast, avoid high torque, low RPM pedalling. Don't stay in the highest gear you can still push - a higher cadence with a lower gear and reasonably light pedalling provides more power sustained for longer.
..and will save your knees
 

theDude

Maximum Pace
Oct 7, 2011
773
111
63
Tokyo
app.strava.com
#11
I wish I had joined a cycling club like TCC before I purchased my first bike.:warau: The information I received from threads since joining the club has been very helpful.:bike:

agreed on this. Love my bike, but would have probably made some slightly more educated decisions when buying. Still discovering exactly what I've got as I go along....
 

Akage38

Cruising
Mar 20, 2012
42
0
16
Tokyo
#12
Really glad I asked this question - some real gems in here already!

It's amazing how some things when you hear them sound like perfect common sense (like eating and drinking regularly on long rides), and yet without prompting I would never be mindful enough to make a conscious habit of it to make sure I was fueled before it was too late.

Cycling in a low gear/high RPM is also something I'm still really bad at - even though I now understand that forcing a very high gear is completely counter-productive, I still have a tendency to ride in a slightly higher gear than I perhaps should, and feel somehow guilty for not being in a higher gear yet. Strangely difficult mindset to unlearn.

Bike mechanics is something I know I should learn, but am reluctant to do so - I did attend free puncture repair lessons at my local bike shop as the most basic starting point of bike maintenance technique, but I doubt very much that I would have the confidence to repair my tyre at the side of the road in the event of a puncture. I would love to be a non-stereotypical woman and not be completely useless at that kinda thing, but unfortunately I fail on this point :eek:
(should definitely make more of an effort though...)

I agree with the cycling communities bit completely, I had a cycling friend give me some advice to start me off for buying a bike etc., but having a hive mind to consult is pretty awesome, as evidenced by the range of advice given here! :cool:

Also digging the psychological warfare suggested by Malte, something I hadn't thought about before but it sounds like a pretty awesome skill if you can master it ;)

If anyone has any further wisdom to share by all means please do, this is a goldmine of brilliant tips! :D
 

AlanW

Maximum Pace
Jan 30, 2007
1,214
436
103
Tokyo
#13
Hmmm, interesting question....

Stuff I wish I'd known:

  • Training has to be structured properly to be effective. Just riding hard all the time won't do it.
  • There are such things as overshoes for winter
  • Generally, spending a bit more on clothing rather than shiny bike bits is a good idea
  • Hollowtech II external bottom brackets only need to be nipped up not tightened hard.
  • Jockey wheel bolts need to be checked for tightness every so often, or they will fall out and leave you stranded :eek:
  • Cassettes and chainrings will last ages if, and only if, you keep an eye on the chain wear and change it early enough
  • Michelin dual compound MTB tyres only last a week if you ride in the Alps, if you're lucky
  • Trying to do jumps when a strong crosswind is blowing is a bad idea......:rescue:

More as I think of them....
 

zenbiker

Maximum Pace
Mar 4, 2008
801
228
63
Chofu
#14
Don't ride on the painted road markings on bends in the wet.:eek:

A higher tire pressure isn't a better tire pressure.

Oil your chain.... little but often!

Never put your finger between the chain and cassette.
 

jdd

Maximum Pace
Hardest Crash
Jul 26, 2008
2,514
639
133
Kanazawa
#16
+1 on the good shorts, but with the caveat that 'quality' is not always equal to 'expensive'.

The better dhb shorts/tights are recommended.

*****

Assos chamois creme is excellent, but don't get it on your most sensitive "mucous membranes"--the most nether of your nether regions.

オロナイン is a great local substitute, available at most any big box pharmacy (Kusuri-Aoki, Genki, etc.), and it doesn't buzz you like the Assos stuff (which is great, but you do have to be a bit careful).

*****

Also, get a Brooks saddle.
 

StuInTokyo

Maximum Pace
Dec 3, 2010
1,662
62
78
#17
Some thins are pretty much the same with any hobby you take up:

Cheap items are often much more expensive in the long run, but the best "_______" you can afford, it will last longer, be more fun to use and end up cheaper over time. If you cannot afford to buy a decent "_______" then wait, save your money, sell some other stuff and buy a good one.

Cycling specific clothing is just that, it makes the whole riding experience more enjoyable.

Learn to do your own wrenching, there are lots of people here who are more than willing to show you, lend a hand. Trust me it is NOT that complex, a bicycle is a simple machine. A lot of the tools are not expensive for what a regular rider would need, and they do NOT have to be bought all at one time, you can buy them as you need them, keep them in one cycling tool box and learn to fix your bike, you will save a lot of money and I find that wrenching on my bikes is a very satisfying thing to do. Really, it is not hard :D

Real food works fine, you don't need any super special hyper power/energy bars/drinks, maybe these things help elite class athletes but for us mere mortals, an onigiri and a carton of grapefruit juice is just fine!:D

I'll try to think of some more!
 

Forsbrook

Maximum Pace
Feb 13, 2008
399
64
48
Katsushika-ku
#18
For a Clyde "steel is real."

I'll never go back to Aluminum.

Good as Trek's warranty is..... it is pretty embarrassing going back to SEO cycle with yet another cracked frame.

Agree with Joe and Owen,hydrate,hydrate and hydrate.
 

theBlob

Bokeh master
Sep 28, 2011
2,864
1,450
129
...
#19
Always carry the tools and goods you need to fix things like a flat tyre or enough money to get a taxi where you need to go.

Being a newb as well I learnt this one just this week:D

Until this week flat tyres were what happened to other people..;)
 

Wolfman

Speeding Up
Jul 31, 2007
631
18
38
Suginamiku
#20
I seem to have bought everything three or four times, each purchase representing a new level of experience or knowledge - I guess everything is like this, not just cycling.

First off, reluctant to wear lycra so got some psuedo cycling shorts; then gradually transitioned to full lycra. Bike, tools, wheels, equipment - pretty much everything is the same story. Level up or some fancy thing that I wouldn't apreciate before but now is "gotta have it" - as they say in that ice cream shop.

It's been interesting but I could have saved a wad of cash if I'd just gone and bought Sram Red / DA wheels / Assos clothing straight off the bat.

As Owen says, eating properly, but I think times have changed now. When I was young all I would eat was a Mars bar, maybe a banana when out and about, probably some lucozade if lucky. There's better food available now.
Same with clothing. Used to be awful, now it really makes things more comfortable. It's worth getting it.