Keep It Simple, Newbie!

Guest poster Don Blount has a new biker in the family, and he’s learned that sometimes, “Keep it simple” is the best tip he can give.

BlountOnBikingMy sister-in-law Gina, who lives in Ohio, recently took up road bike riding. She bought a Giant Avail 1, a slick aluminum frame bike designed for women.

She has already managed to get out for a few solo rides and was planning to join in on a group ride soon.

We have talked and texted a lot about biking since.

Our conversations have reminded me a lot of when I purchased my bike in August 2008. I wanted to know anything and everything I could about cycling. And yet, it seemed that I repeatedly received the same answer from more experienced riders: “Just ride and enjoy it.”

And although Gina and I have discussed quite a few things I now find myself saying to her: “Just ride and enjoy it.”

I see now that it is easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of cycling whether it be cycling cadence, breathing, what to carry in your jersey pockets or saddlebag. Particularly when you are as inquisitive as Gina, and I guess I would fall into that category as well. But many things about cycling you learn in time.

The most important thing is to just enjoy your time on the bike no matter what type of riding you do.

There are plenty of things that will be learned in time.

Don Blount's sister-inlaw, Gina, practices fixing a flat tire. The supervisor at right was no help but would not move out of the photo.

Don Blount’s sister-inlaw, Gina, practices fixing a flat tire. The supervisor at right was no help but would not move out of the photo.

I did share a few things with her during her recent visit to Stockton. I told her to carry a spare tube, an inflator whether it be a C02 cartridge or pump (I carry both). And I also recommended she to learn how to change a flat on the road. To that end I had her practice by changing the tube on my bike’s rear wheel.

Finally, I suggested she wipe down and inspect her tires after each ride and to wipe down the chain too. By inspecting the tires you can see the wear and remove any objects embedded in the tires before they have a chance to penetrate the tube and cause a flat. Wiping down the chain removes dirt and grime the chain picks up while on the road. Removing it helps the drivetrain run more smoothly and helps reduce wear on those parts.

For that matter, our flat-fixing lesson came in handy. Less than a week later as Gina prepared to go out for a ride, she discovered that she had a flat front tire. “Let’s just say it took a little longer than when I did it with you,” she said in a text. Unfortunately, by the time she had the tire repaired it was too dark to ride.

She said the lesson she learned was to check the bike well before it is time to ride.

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