With a little over a month of the Evolving Cyclist Project gone there’s been much learned, lots eaten, no weight lost but a great start made. Last month I made a plan: Ignore training plans – and so far it’s worked well! For March, I decided all I needed to do was get out more, get the miles going and enjoy every minute.
It’s an approach I’d strongly recommend to anyone buying a road bike or starting to take their cycling more seriously.
But at some point if you’re aiming to get fit, you’ve got to get on it and get riding further and faster – and that’s what’s happening this month.
So here’s 10 things I’ve learned that should help cyclists who are thinking about buying their first road bike.
- Road bikes don’t have low gears, nor do they climb hills – you climb the hills, and when the gears are gone, it’s all about the legs.
- Commuting on a road bike is daunting, at first: Brakes don’t come to hand easily, vision to the rear is difficult and those potholes can rattle your bones.
- There’s a technique to changing gear on a road bike, you don’t just push the levers.
- Road bikes are slightly precious but massively rewarding when you work them hard. Light weight, efficient, aerodynamic, good looking (ok, enough about me) bikes like the Carrera Virago (pictured) grow on you quickly.
- I’m finding the best way to improve your road bike skills is to ride it everywhere, not just on your longer weekend rides. Forcing myself to commute on the road bike is giving me better control in all conditions – give it a go.
- The best way to get fit quickly is to climb hills. Sucking in the air and forcing down the power really pushes both rider and bike. Climbing like a mountain goat will get your heart rate peaking, and in some thermal clothing will leave you smelling like one on your return…
- A fast cross-wind when heading downhill will leave you gripping on tighter than your lycra. That’s two high speed wobbles I’ve had – the second was better than the first, shifting weight to the front helped.
- No matter what we do, there’s still some cyclists who think it’s ok to not use lights – and writing guides to buying lights only gives people who are already interested more information, it doesn’t address the problem – my post on buying bike lights got a few tongues wagging and served up a great gear trial of the new Knog Blinder, yet the road’s still full of idiots.
- Buying a road bike will not get you fit, although fitness improves rapidly when riding faster. In my case I’m not losing weight, but this could be because I’m turning fat to muscle – and turning greed to calories at a faster rate than I burn them off!
And for April?
Well, it’s time to take it all a little more seriously. Still no training schedule, but my plan is to get 3+ rides per week, learn more about sports nutrition, get some longer rides in (35 miles+) and start using data to check on my progress – watch out for a post on cycling computers.
As last week’s 1-hour ride turned into a blast, I thought to document the monthly weight, miles cycled and do a benchmark time trial.
Total weight = me 200 (still) with new bike 230
Miles Cycled = 235
Road Time Trial April 10: Average speed = 14.35 mph (including red lights)
Mark is leading the Evolving Cyclist Project, you can follow his progress on Twitter @travelsportcopy #evolvingcyclist
- Touring Bike vs Road Bike: Riding a Carrera Virago to Paris
- Buying a Road Bike: Gears and losing your Megarange
- Hybrid to road bike: Riding a Carrera Virago
3 Comments to “Buying a road bike and living with it”
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