Tips for Riding & Tips for Whatevering

In this post: Tips for new riders and new whatevering riders, Grand Fondue news and shop ride updates.

Whiskey Springs Road, early morning solo whatevering ride.

For lots of riders, cycling is something old yet new.  It’s a renaissance activity, something once practiced and forgotten.  In the gathered wisdom of age, cycling is something returned to.  People don’t forget how to ride a bike, but maybe they never rode on the road as kids, or never dealt with big groups of riders, or cars, or uphill remounts, or nutrition as it relates to bikes and big rides.  Returning riders have lots of well-meaning enthusiasm, but not years of experience to round out the enthusiasm.  These tips are geared toward those renaissance riders, as well as riders who are new to the concept of riding a bike for the fun of it, like you did when you were a kid.

Point out obstacles to riders behind you.  Pot holes, grates, oddly parked cars, small children, glass.  Whatever it is, if you think the person behind you might not see it, point it out with a waging finger before you come to it.  That way the guy right behind you knows why you are swerving, and knows to follow.  Do this anytime you are riding with someone or lots of people.

Look, someone left a porcelain porcupine on the side of the road!

Descend in the drops.  If the road gets sketchy, slide your butt back on the saddle, crouch down a bit, and get in the drops.  The levers are easier to squeeze there, and you are lower, which lowers your center o’ gravity, giving you more control.

Loosen your grip.  Most riders climb white knuckled and descend the same way.  Force yourself to relax your grip.  If you hit bumps, the bar should dance around in your hand.  Pretend like the bar is 2 times bigger than it is.  This does two things: it forces you to relax your upper body, making you less sore (tense muscles = wasted energy) and it lets your arms and hands deal with bumps without wrenching the bars out of your hands.

Lower your tire pressure.  The tire pressure on the side of the tire is there for liability reasons, not because you should actually run 120 psi.    If you ride 23mm tires and weigh 200 lbs, ride 100 psi.  If you are 150, ride 85.  More squish means more traction and comfort.  Buy bigger tires to run even lower pressures.  If you are not racing, try 28mm tires.   I’m 190, ride 28mm tires, and use 75psi.  It feels fast but comfortable.

Point your elbows at your rear hub.  Dropping your elbows, and giving them some bend does the same thing as loosening your grip.  Do both, ride better!

Jaques shows how to point your elbows

Move your hands a lot.  If you keep your hands in one spot on the bars, chances are your hands will hurt.  Move them around every few minutes.

Ride in clothing that is comfortable to you.  Don’t like tight black lycra?  Don’t ride in it.  Ride in what you feel like riding in.  It’s ok!

Corner with your hips.  Steer into fast sweeping turns by pointing your hips at the turn.  The bike will naturally follow where you point your hips, and you wont accidentally over-steer.

Lean into steep turns by putting the outside pedal down and the inside one up.  That way you won’t clip your pedal on the ground.

When climbing steep, loose terrain, plant your butt on the tip of the saddle and lean as far forward as you can, so your rear wheel maintains traction, and your front doesn’t pop up into the air.

Look where you are going.  Look way down the road, 40 feet or more.  Focus on where you are going, not where you are.  If you fixate on a pothole, your bike will steer toward it.  Looking ahead lets you prepare for what is to come, and your bike will naturally flow through, because you already know what is coming.

Take a breather.  It’s ok to stop on hard climb and gather your breath.  Just don’t wait too long, it can be really hard to get started again.

Walk.  If it’s too long or too steep, get off, take a few breaths and walk for 100 feet, then try again.  Your heart rate will come down in that time, so you’ll probably make it the rest of the way up.

Drink lots of water.  Even in the winter, sweat is evaporating out of you.  You have to stay hydrated, or your muscles will start to freeze up.  Plan on 2-3 bottles for a 35 mile ride, regardless of the season.  If it is cool out, force yourself to drink.

Don’t rely on magic food.  Gu’s and sugar beans and Jelly Blocks are fine, some of the time, but you want real food for real rides.  Make it something packable and appetizing.  Sandwiches, bananas, figs, snickers bars… Bring extra food for people who just packed magic food.

Right Fork, Frederick Watershed, 8am.

Always bring a real pump.

Bring a camera and set a goal for how many pictures you want to take.  Stopping to shoot a beautiful scene is never a waste of time, and always makes you feel better at the end of the ride.

Don’t ride to train.  Ride because you can go to beautiful places without your car.  If you get exercise out of it, great.  If it’s flat and easy, also great.

Buy a cycling cap.  Caps keep the sun and rain out of your eyes, soak up sweat, cut down on wind and tie you in with 90 years of tradition.  Caps soaked in a stream are a life saver on hot days.


The Grand Fondue is fast approaching.  It’s time to make sure you and your bike are ready to rock.  Tubes, patch kits, pumps, fresh tires, GOOD BRAKE PADS, etc.  Pack enough food, bring some money for gas station food.  Bring a tail light.  A complete list of recommended items is at our blog: www.bikedoctofrederick.wordpress.com under the breaking news about the grand fondue link.  Please read the whole article to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.  There’s lots of info in there, and it doesn’t all fit into a tidy paragraph.

Tuesday Mornings, join James and Andre for a ride into the hills.  We’ll hit whatever roads we have the legs for, and be back in the early afternoon.  We meet at the 7th street Starbucks at 8 am, eat some food, drink some coffee, and then head out.

Sunday morning women’s shop rides are over for the season.  Tracy will start ’em back up in the Spring!

Sunday evenings, join James, Andre and Dan the Younger for an epic whatevering ride.  Wheels down at 5.30, but get to the shop at 5.  You have to bring real lights for this, we return in the dark.  150 lumen minimum for your headlight!  30-50 miles.

For all rides, check facebook to see if they are on or not, due to weather.

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