Have you been to your local bike shop lately? Bike sales are booming, bike mechanics are swimming in service tickets, and there are a ton of cyclists out and about - on trails, on paved and gravel roads, even just cruising through town.
Perhaps you’re one of the many brand new cyclists trying out riding for the first time as an adult. Or maybe you’ve just come out of a “bicycle hibernation” and are revisiting cycling as a form of exercise and enjoyment. Either way, we recognize that getting started (or re-started) in this sport can be difficult or confusing. What kind of bike do I need? What gear is essential? Why would you go on a group ride when riding by yourself seems less stressful?
We asked some of our Giant Factory Off-Road Team athletes about the things they wish they’d known when they first started biking. Their tips will be sure to set your mind at ease and help you put your best wheel forward so that you can enjoy a lifetime of fun on a bike.
Carl Decker, long time Giant Factory Off-Road Team cross-country, gravel, and cyclocross athlete, hits the nail on the head: “Don’t apologize for being slow and holding up other riders when you’re invited on a group ride. We’ve all been the slowest, least skilled, or least fit on a ride before. Take the opportunity to learn from somebody who’s more experienced than you. And know that seeing you become a better rider is rewarding enough to warrant some patience on their part.”
Eliot Jackson, gravity athlete, and Cole Paton, cross-country athlete, echo: “Don’t worry so much about technique” when you first get started. “Just have fun! Don’t stress about fitness, it will come with time.”
Team Mechanic, Dan Hoeppner, who also moonlights at Bicycle Centres of Everett recommends, “Invest in quality, properly fitted cycling shorts with a pad (chamois)... and don’t wear your underwear underneath your padded bicycle shorts! This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make, and I know it seems a little strange at first, but your padded shorts should be layer #1.” Dan also adds, “Check your tire pressure every time you ride! Bonus: If you ride a bike with air-sprung suspension, check your air pressure every 2-4 weeks to make sure your suspension is still set-up properly.” Your bike shop is here to help you determine what your air pressure should be - don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask.
GFORT gravel athlete Josh Berry reminds us all, “Don’t forget to take breaks and eat and drink. One of my favorites is a peanut butter and honey sandwich, washed down with plain water. It’s quick to make and easy to carry along. Early on in my days as a cyclist, there was so much I thought about, and eating and drinking went out the window, but is fuel is critical.”
Finally, Carl recommends all riders learn how to fix a flat tire. “95% of mechanical issues that end bike rides are dreaded flat tires. Flats happen, but they shouldn't keep you from riding wherever you like. The tools necessary to fix a flat tire are cheap, and the job isn't difficult with the right technique. Ask a seasoned cyclist to show you how or even watch a YouTube video. Head to the bike shop, get a tube, pump, and tire levers, and ride with confidence.”
Whether you’re a new or experienced rider, young or old, we all agree: “You can achieve more than you expect or believe your body can do on a bicycle. With time and with opportunity only you can give yourself, cycling can be a way you push your physical and mental limits to grow as a human, overcome fears, and experience success that will transfer to your daily life.”
Let us know what you wish you knew when you first started riding via Instagram @GiantBicyclesUSA or on Facebook. Also, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date on all the latest offers and news.