Despite the general opinion of cycling, not every ride needs to be fast paced, lycra clad, or over mind boggling distances. For many people, just being able to incorporate bikes into their everyday life for short trips would suffice. This type of riding is more focused on a lifestyle of riding which doesn’t need to be dressed up and complicated with a lot of expensive tech you might see in performance bikes. Here are tips and ideas for including bikes into your everyday life
What kind of bike should I ride?
The type of bike isn’t the most important decision when trying to get outside and ride however there are a few things you may want to take into consideration. I would recommend a frame that can accept a rear rack so that you can take the loads of small errands and quick grocery trips off of your back and weighted evenly over the rear wheel. Attached to the rack could be a small box/basket or a pannier bag which can double as a reusable grocery bag. Whether or not the bike has gears is up to the rider. If there is some rolling terrain near your or might be carrying heavier loads then gears may suit you well. If you are just darting around for quick trips and want to keep the bike simple you can go with a single speed with a coaster brake or handbrake.
Where should I start?
I’ve found that keeping the trips short and manageable is the best way to start out. Trips under a 1 mile radius may not seem like a large distance at first but it is a reasonable distance to cover many local post offices, grocery stores, and such. It isn’t necessary to do all of your errands by bike when you start and when you start to increase your radius or the frequency of your trips make sure that you keep the distances reasonable. Some of the trips that I make on a semi-regular basis is picking up fresh bread and produce from local shops. When it comes to route selection staying off some of the larger streets is ideal. Taking neighborhood streets may take a bit longer but there will be less traffic and a more relaxed pace. It comes with the added bonus of exploring your neighborhood in a way that you might not have experienced in the past!
How much should I expect to spend?
There are options to go with a department store bike which could cost as little as $100-$150. However supporting your local bike shop and buying from them for a little more will give you several benefits. First off, the bike will be built by a professional in a shop where they may include a free tune up to cover the settling in period when you first start riding the bike. They will also have a good relationship with the manufacturer if there are any warranty issues. Pair all of that with the general knowledge of the shop and your experience will have a lot less guesswork and quality time out on the bike! Be sure to check your LBS for sales on city style bikes and even road hybrids.
Some companies that produce quality city style bikes are: Virtue Cycles, Linus, Public, and Retrospec. With a quick search you can find local dealers and even test ride a few bikes!
Accessories to make life on the bike easier:
My second session of velodrome certification was awesome. Right from the start we took all of the knowledge we gained from the first session and took it immediately onto the track. It was much more dynamic and a lot more exciting than the first session which was much more informative. On the first day we were only allowed to ride along the measurement line in the pole lane so that we got an idea of the speeds needed to stay upright on the banked turns. At first, I felt a little uncomfortable riding at the slower speeds but it gave me a good idea of how fast or slow I really could go and stick to the boards.
In this session we hopped into a paceline and practiced peeling off the front by riding up the banked turns while the rest of the gruppetto rides underneath. By the time it was my turn to lead for two laps it was actually the first time I was able to see the the track open and without another rider in my view. It was a huge rush of adrenaline dropping down from the balustrade(the top rail) into the straightaway. Even just riding along the balustrade without dropping all the way down for a sprint is like riding along some rolling hills.
I'm definitely excited to get into the third session of certification for more emphasis on the technical skills and develop the ones already covered.
Is there a happy medium within the Strava community or are all who use it doomed to abuse it?
Obsessive, addictive, overzealous, annoying. These are just a few words the cycling purists generally use to describe Strava and it's users. With constant reference to its addictive nature it seems like many people refer to the social training network as a schedule 1 drug. They preach the idea that it takes the focus of riding off of the ride itself and replaces it with a feeling of vacancy every time they aren’t able to capture an elusive KOM or even just a PR. The struggling Strava addict, according to these cycling purists, is any rider who uses this social platform and can’t seem to ride without it. The phrase “Strava, or it didn’t happen” has been uttered by many Strava users but is it said with serious intent or only jest? (/the user who dreads the Uh-oh email like a bad omen.)
On the polar end of the spectrum, the user who has a public account but doesn’t publicly upload may be seen as the responsible user of Strava. “Responsible” in the sense that are not seeking the kudos with cleverly titled rides or they may be keeping KOM hunting to a minimum. Reasons that someone might keep their rides private may be for location privacy preferences, training privacy for top level athletes, or simply just because they want to contribute to the kudos community but are too hipster too upload their ride and want to secret training ;) However to other users it seems to defeat the social purpose of the site as a whole.
So, where is the balance? Ideally, the user who uses it as a training tool and a measure of progress over the long term while keeping things like: KOM hunting, frequent use of the phrase “Strava or it didn’t happen, KOM Poaching, and/or sweating over the numbers on the ride Analyze page to a minimum may be the best balance of Strava use. Even then, some of the things that make Strava annoying to some can bring out the fun and competitive nature in others.
Just getting some thoughts out on my first experience on the boards.
It was the first of four introductory sessions to become certified to ride on the Carson Velodrome at the Velo Sports Center. The class was a mix of riders who have had some experience on the velodrome and riders who have zero experience. I am one of the riders who have absolutely zero experience on the velodrome so every single second was thrilling for me. No joke, the second I walked into the upper level that overlooks the the whole track I became quite giddy with a mix of excitement and maybe just a little bit of fear.
I should clarify. The ever so slight feeling of fear isn't such an accurate description of the emotion. It was moreso an overwhelming sense of awe at the size of the track and the bank of the curves. From my initial research about the Carson Velodrome it is described as being much taller and steeper than many of the velodromes in the country. The great thing about learning to ride on this particular velodrome is that it is built to international standards which means that if you know how to navigate and ride on this velodrome then you'll know how to handle yourself on any of the velodromes around the world that are built to the same specifications. This is important to many of the world-class athletes who train here because they need to be sure that their efforts and mindsets are repeatable while on the boards.
The first day was full of information on the riding etiquette and demystifying of the names and functions of the lines painted on the boards. Even with all of the research done beforehand the understanding of how to interpret the lines and how they function while riding is much easier understood when standing on the velodrome. After a good bit of instruction off the bike it was time to make the steady transition from the apron up to blue band then into the pole lane! The extent of the riding was done in that lower section without passing to the outside red sprinters lane. After a quick twenty laps my lesson was done for the day and I was left wanting more. I can't wait until the next session where we will be able to get some more time on the bike!