On your bike!
So, you bought a road bike but it’s still sitting idly in the shed. Below I have jotted down some of my experiences going from pedaling a basket bike to the markets, to clip-clopping around the coffee shop in my lycra, latte in hand after completing a 40k bike ride.
The gear and set up
- Cycling shorts (knicks) with in-built padding or
- Bibs – similar to knicks but have straps that go over the shoulders
- Cycling jersey
- Water holder and bottle
- Lights and Reflectors
- Bike computer (optional) – records speed, distance, etc
- Cleats – clipless shoes and pedals (optional)
- Spare tubes and a bike maintenance kit
- Bike pump
Here is a picture of my Specialized Dolce that I purchased in 2012.
If you already have your bike – you’re sorted! Just wheel it out of the shed and onto the path. (Ok maybe check the tyres first but more on that later). If you are still searching for a bike and you are a beginner as I was, it is a good idea to start with an entry-level bike first to see if it’s something you enjoy without breaking the bank – however that obviously depends on your budget.
I bought an entry-level Specialised bike from an independent bike store in Chermside that sadly isn’t there anymore. Although there are so many bike shops now – finding one shouldn’t be a problem; I’ll list a couple that I know further down. Also, check out the link to Bicyclesonline at the bottom of our website for bikes and bike parts. Or you could look on online marketplaces for a second hand one. The guys at the bike shop helped me purchase a bike and assisted with setting me up on the bike. This is a process where the bike is mounted, and you then hop on and pedal it. The handlebars and saddle are modified (length and height adjusted accordingly) to ensure maximum comfort.
I also bought a bike computer to attach to my bike as I wanted to get into triathlon and wanted to see my speed, cadence, time, and distance while cycling. The bike computers available now are very high tech and show maps with routes you can take. If you are just wanting to casually ride a bike computer is not a necessity.
The bike came with water bottle cages, but I bought a specialised water bottle to fit in the slot. If your bike doesn’t have a water bottle cage, they are available for purchase online and in bike shops and can be easily fitted to your bike.
A blinking or steady red rear light with a flashing or steady white front light must be used when cycling at night or in low-light conditions. It’s a good idea to use a flashing taillight at any time to increase your safety. Check the road rules when choosing which lights you would like to use.
You will need a bike maintenance kit and a bike pump too.
Hero’s wear helmets! Who is old enough to remember that slogan? In Australia, you are required by law to wear an approved helmet that meets AS/NSZ safety standards while riding your bike. Most helmets are suitable for men and women, but you should try it on for size. There are varying degrees of:
- aerodynamic shape
- some including Bluetooth connectivity and LED lights.
- some have visors to pull down to protect from sun exposure and some have visors to protect your eyes.
Phew! Who knew they were so different? You should consider how you are going to use your bike i.e. commute to work vs racing and purchase a helmet that suits.
Scody has kindly given SHESeeks readers a discount code valid until 9 March 2021! Code is: Sheseeks
Cycling shorts or knicks as they are called are a must. I have bought some from the bike shop and online. Having only worn knicks, I didn’t know anything about bibs. However, recently I visited the Scody store in West End and the owners there convinced me to try the bibs instead, encouraging me that the bibs are much more comfortable to ride in. Cycling bibs are like knicks in that they have the padding built-in, but they also have straps that go over the shoulders. A couple of reasons for swapping to bibs include not having an elastic waistband to dig in as you bend over and the chamois (padding) stays in place. I rode in them for the first time on the weekend and loved them. I found them super comfortable.
While not an absolute must, cycling jerseys are both practical and comfortable. They have pockets in the back of them to fit your keys, phones, gels, and snacks in them. The jerseys are also breathable to help keep you cool while you ride. Plus, you’ll look the part at the coffee shop after your ride. LOL.
Then you get into all of the extras. It depends on how often and how long you will be cycling for.
Gloves – I wear cycling gloves as I get some pins and needles in one hand and my gloves have gel padding and support which seem to help. There are full finger gloves too, for riding on those frosty mornings, and in case you have a stack, the gloves can help protect your hands from gravel rash.
Talking about frosty mornings, if you are a keen bean and keep cycling in winter, you are crazy! Haha no – just kidding. There are warmers, neck, arm, knee, and leg warmers, and cute little funny caps that go under your helmet to keep you toasty.
Cycling glasses come in all shapes and sizes and of course, prices. Some have multiple lenses where you can swap to the dark lens on a sunny day or yellow lens for overcast weather. I just purchased my first pair and love them.
Cycling socks are a thing, actually they seem to be a BIG thing, however, I haven’t yet purchased a pair.
Cleats or clip-in shoes
To clip in or not to clip in? Clipless pedals provide more control of the bike with better handling, efficiency, and power. If you aren’t comfortable doing this as a total beginner, it’s something you can swap over to later down the track. Perhaps try a friend’s clip-ins and see if you like it or not. It can be a daunting process and you can expect to fall off at least once or twice while you are getting used to them but honestly, it doesn’t take too long. It only took a few rides before I didn’t fall off. I was, however, cautious for quite a while until I got a bit more confidence.
One thing to remember is that the pedals where the cleats clip into, spin around to be facing up and ready – so this is helpful when trying to clip in. Also, if you miss the pedal and don’t manage to clip it in straight away, you can still pedal with your foot resting on the pedal until you get to a safe area if you need to slow down or stop to clip in.
Check out this YouTube video here: How To: Clip In to Your Pedals (3-Bolt) – Bing video
Where to ride safely
When I first road my bike in cleats I fell off into a garden bed in front of several passers-by and tried to blame my husband; but it was just because I forgot I was attached to the bike!
I was also really nervous about riding next to traffic and other vehicles competing for the road. I used to almost vomit with nerves if I could see a traffic light ahead turning red, knowing that I would need to stop, unclip, and restart again next to cars. One of the biggest things I learned over time, was that with more and more practice would come confidence (of course!). And, there’s no need to rush. Just because cars are flying past a million miles an hour making their way to work or whatever they are doing, doesn’t mean I need to rush with them. Taking time to go through the motions of unclipping and reclipping is important.
There are plenty of bike paths in Brisbane to ride safely away from the traffic.
My favourites include:
- The Kedron Brook Bikeway: the Kedron Brook Bikeway stretches for almost 20 kilometres from Mitchelton to Nundah
- Toombul to Sandgate: this will take you from Toombul past the Nundah Crit Track right out to the beautiful Sandgate Foreshore and Shorncliffe Pier. You could park your car at the Nundah Crit Track and ride out and back.
- West End to city centre: this riverside route starts at Orleigh Park and winds along the river through the Riverside Parklands and Davies park and on to Kurilpa Bridge into the city centre.
You can discover Brisbane’s extensive network of bikeways and shared pathways near where you live, here.
You may choose to join a local cycling club to help discover new cycling routes or improve your bunch riding skills. Usually, they have different riding opportunities for all levels of experience.
Some that I know of include:
More clubs can be found here: Cycling Australia
If you don’t feel you are ready to join a club and want to learn some tips and tricks on all things cycling from road or traffic confidence, cornering to bunch riding etiquette and technique also head to Cycling Australia to find the cycling skills workshops near you.
How to change a tyre
I used to get so anxious that I would get a flat tyre as I had no clue how to change it and worried I would be stuck 20 kilometres from home and have to carry the stead home – in cleats and all! If you know how to change a tyre it won’t be a concern for you.
Check out this youtube video how to do it here. And then like anything – practice!
How to maintain your bike
Pumping your tyres can be tricky to get used to in the beginning. You need to remove the valve cap and unscrew the valve. The pump attaches to the valve and a lever keeps the pump in position. Then just start pumping and stop when you reach optimal air pressure. If you don’t know what optimal air pressure your bike tyres take – look on the side of your tyre for a number next to the letters PSI or ask the people in the bike shop to help.
Keeping your bike clean prolongs the life of your bike. Soapy water is as good as anything although a degreaser gets rid of the dirt in the chain and gear sprockets.
After cleaning your bike it’s important to lubricate it on any parts of your bike where metal touches metal.
Check out some great tips on maintaining your bike here.
My favourite bike shops are below:
Hoffy Cycles – Sandgate
Le Service Course – Petrie
i-Ride bikes – Toowoomba
99 Bikes – many locations
You may wish to set yourself a cycling goal, a great way to do this is to sign up for a cycling event or charity bike ride. Keep an eye out for:
Pies to Pacific Bike Ride for MND – Brisbane to Byron Bay with a choice of two distances to enter in.
Noosa Classic – Riding through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with 3 distances to choose from.
Ride the Range – Ride down the Toowoomba Range (and up!) – with six ride distances to choose from. Check out the pic of me below being the face for Ride the Range in 2017!
If this post has been helpful, let us know in the comments and please share it with your friends!
Also don’t forget to take advantage of the Scody discount code valid until 9 March 2021! Code is: Sheseeks