Five Tips for a Smoother Ride
In triathlon, most of us will spend the highest percentage of time on the bike during a race. This means we need to spend a substantial amount of time training on the bike. But if your ride isn’t smooth, you won’t likely get that saddle time that you need. Here are some tips geared towards the beginner cyclist to help you be more comfortable on the bike.
1) Make sure the bike fits you. If you are new to triathlon, duathlon, or cycling, it doesn’t really matter what kind of bike you are riding, as long as it fits you. The right sized frame, saddle position and a properly sized saddle are a few factors critical to comfort. Any reputable bike shop will have staff members trained specifically in bike fits to get you in the position that is best for you.
2) Make sure your bike is cleaned and tuned. New riders can get discouraged when the ride is noisy or hit is hard to shift gears, especially if they are riding an older bike. If you can see grime on the chain and rear cassettee, it’s time for a thorough cleaning! When was the last time you cleaned your chain and the drivetrain components? If these components are clean and lubed, then your ride will be a much more enjoyable experience. Getting a professional tune-up is also an option.
3) Pump up your tires each time you ride. You will want to inflate to the rated PSI on the tire. If your tires aren’t properly inflated, you could be more suscpetible to flats or make your ride less smooth. Most road tires end up around 100psi (though some can go higher). Mountain bikes with knobby tires will likely vary between 30-60psi, depending on the terrain you are riding. I recommend you get a floor pump with a pressure gage. And inflate right before you ride, not the night before, as you will lose tire pressure overnight.
4) Perform a basic bike check before each ride. This tip is for safety- new and experienced riders should all do this. Check both sets of brakes to make sure they aren’t rubbing on your wheels and that they are functioning properly. Check your tires for any debris – perhaps there is a thorn or piece of glass that hasn’t punctured your tire…yet. And every few rides check that the bolts are tightened properly. And don’t forget to always wear a helmet!
5) “Shift early and shift often.” – use your gears. A lot of new riders ask me how to shift gears. The gear shift on your right had side works the rear derailleur – it moves the chain on the cassette at the back of the bike. Think of it as fine tuning your pedaling. Most of the time you will want to maintain an even and consistent pedal stroke, so if your pedaling gets too hard or too easy, shift to keep it steady. The gear shift on the left moves the chain on your front chain ring – this gives you big changes in gearing. The smaller the chain ring makes it easier to to pedal. Practice shifting your gears when you are out riding to learn how to go each direction. Also think about shifting right as you notice the change in terrain.
These tips shoud help you feel more comfortable on your bike, and will hopefully help both the new and experienced cyclist. If you have any questions regarding these tips, please go to my website http://neoendurancesports.com and click on the contact us tab. And thanks to the Colorado Springs Bicycle Village for allowing us to film in their store.
Coach Nicole is the founder and head coach for NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness, a Colorado-based endurance sport coaching company. She is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and also coaches triathlon for Team In Training. Please visit http://neoendurancesports.com to learn more about how Coach Nicole can help you with your cycling skills.