A good solo bike ride
Let’s talk about my recent misadventure and think about what a good bike ride would look like.
On Sunday, I went out for a workaround. 20 minutes in, still in my warmup phase, I hit a pothole, and my tyre went flat within seconds. I walked back a bit to find a safe place to change my inner tube. And all went well until I found out I didn’t have the head of my CO2 canister. So I couldn’t pump my newly repaired wheel. Luckily, a local cyclist stopped and let me use his pump.
I will therefore emphasize my tip #2 from My 10 Triathlon Tips and Trick article: get prepared.
Our world is driven by data and innovation. I won’t be surprised if, during your ride, you’re using:
- a bike computer to track your effort and navigate
- a mobile phone – I wouldn’t use one for navigation, though – in case of emergency or as a wallet
- lights to be seen, for your own safety
- a watch to track effort & navigate, in case you don’t have a bike computer or as a backup
All of those use batteries. So, before getting on your ride, make sure they’re all charged.
Better too much than too little
For clothing, again, be prepared. Every bike ride is likely to be different. Check the weather forecast before your ride. And don’t forget that it’s easier to strip and remove one layer rather than trying to find a cycling shop opened to buy an extra layer. It would be more expensive too!
I won’t say it enough, be prepared. During my ride, I usually take a sip of electrolyte every 10 minutes and eat energy gels or bars every 30 to 45 minutes. Test different options and brands and see what suits you best. But make sure you will have enough, and maybe plan a bit more if your journey takes longer than planned.
I have to say I’ve been pretty lucky in my bike rides. I can only remember two punctures in the last few years, with a different ending. Whilst you can’t always plan everything, make sure you have enough kit to repair a hole.
One was during a group ride with BTS. I arrived at the meeting point, and after only 100 meters, my tyre went flat. As it was a relatively new bike with no quick release, I let the guys carry on and took my time to change the inner tube. I then headed to the nearest bike shop to get a new inner tube. A few kilometres later, trying to cut short the route and rejoin gin the group, I had another puncture. Back again to the process of changing the tube, much faster, I have to say, I was back on the saddle pretty quickly, but not for long as the tyre went flat again. At that point, I had enough cycling and drama for the morning, so I decided to go back to my car on foot. Instead of going all the way around, I decided to cut through her majesty’s fields. That was a lovely walk, badly trashing my cleat but discovering a well-hidden polo guard field. What should have been a pretty straight walk took a bit longer than expected when I couldn’t find a way to go to the following area, trees and bushes blocking the way. After lots of back and forth, I’ve managed to go – carrying my back – through fences and steam to finally make it back to the car.
Lastly, when you go out on a ride, don’t forget the cycling etiquette.
Say hello. This is cycling etiquette rule number one! When you overtake a cyclist or pass on the other side of the road give them a quick hi, nod or lift of the hand. If etiquette is polite behaviour then this is where it starts. The only exception to this is if you’re smashing out a tough training session and have got barely the energy to breathe let alone talk. Then, and only then, is it acceptable not to acknowledge a fellow rider.
Stop and help. If you see a rider stuck at the side of the road offer to stop and help. Even if you’re not a mechanic you may have tools or kit that will help them out. More often than not they will wave you past pretending to make a phone call when they are actually taking a rest!
Take enough stuff to be self sufficient. It’s very annoying when you stop at the side of the road to help someone only to find out they haven’t even taken a tube out with them. Whilst I will always begrudgingly hand mine over to help a fellow rider you should never rely on the good nature of others to help you out. Take out what you need. There will be the odd occasion when it’s not enough but don’t head out with nothing!
Be conscious of where you take a break. Some places welcome cyclists, others don’t. I’m not sure I’d want someone turning up on the table beside me at Sunday dinner fresh out of the gym but us cyclists will happily wander into somewhere after four sweaty hours of riding. Try and research places that are used to catering for cyclists and if you do end up in a local pub try and stick away from those who are out to enjoy their meal. Whilst you’re all paying customers, just be considerate.
Think about how you approach others. You will inevitably come across other riders when out on the road and eventually you’ll be the one doing the catching up. If you join up with a rider or group of riders ask them if they mind you cycling with them. They may say no as they are training for something specific (or just miserable!). When you do, remember you are on their turf so do as they do and take your turns on the front.
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