I think I've got the basics down; how can I improve my bicycle skills?
August 15, 2013 1:40 PM Subscribe
I'm new to bike riding as an adult; I'm riding to work but would like to improve in the areas of balance, stamina, and pace.
posted by stellaluna to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
After twenty years walking and driving, I finally got up the courage to overcome my childhood bicycle trauma and I bought a bike! It's a 7-speed hybrid commuter bike and after having it a week I feel comfortable riding to work in a bike lane, navigating traffic, and toodling around the neighborhood.
However, I'm quickly realizing that there's a lot I don't know.
1) How can I improve my balance on my bike? Ultimately I would like to be able to mount/dismount while the bike is moving, e.g. with the left foot on the left pedal, push off and swing the right leg over onto the right pedal while the bike is moving. Same with dismounting. Right now I am climbing on, straddling the bike, pushing off with left foot, and scooting up and back on to the seat. It doesn't feel very efficient.
2) How can I improve my stamina going up hills and the like? Luckily my town isn't very hilly but I'm consistently surprised at how hard I worked to get to the top. Like, out of breath, panting like I just ran up six flights of stairs. I think maybe I don't understand how to efficiently use the gears, but are there things other than practice that will help me get better, faster, at going up hills? In addition to biking I work out about four or five days a week, doing yoga, elliptical, and P90X; are there specific bike-muscle-building exercises I can do there that will help?
3) How can I better pace myself? When I am riding I feel that I am floating along at a dreamy pace, but when I get off my bike, hills or not, I'm a sweaty mess. Like, way more than if I walked. Is this normal? Is it a matter of pacing, or is it just a fact of bike riding, since the air cools you so you don't realize how hard you're working until you stop? It is okay right now since my office is pretty casual in the summer, but how'm I going to manage it when I have to look more professional? I know people take changes of clothes, but is there a way I can just...sweat less?
4) What is bike lane etiquette? Right now I'm usually the only one in our lanes but I am sure that will change soon. If I am going slower...should I stop every so often to let people pass? If I am going faster, should I try to pass on the move? I'm seeing a lot of different advice online and want to be a safe, mannerly cyclist. I already know about claiming the lane, signalling, and watching out for doors :)
Thank you for any and all insight, including links to past Asks I may have missed. I have asked friends and at my local bike shop but they kind of all just say, "I dunno, you just have to ride more". I am definitely going to do that (I am surprising myself how much I am loving riding!) and if that's the only answer I will live with it, but if anyone has any hacks that helped them when they were beginning to ride I would love to hear about them.