Stupid Biking (Cycling?) Questions

So, here’s the deal.  I am SUPER excited about the idea of biking.  Obviously, since I just spent a small fortune on a bike and all that goes with it.  But, I am scared and nervous about it too.  Why?  Because I don’t cycle.  As in, I haven’t owned a bike in like 15 years.  And when I did own a bike, it was probably from Target and I probably just used it to go around the block.  And before that I probably didn’t have one since high school.  The extent of my biking is jumping on a bike at the gym for lazy cross training days (and when I did that, it wasn’t even the spin bikes, it was always the lazy recumbant looking bikes).

When I went bike shopping yesterday EVERYTHING was so foreign to me.  It was seriously like Coach MB and the bike shop dudes were speaking in a foreign language.  I didn’t understand ANY of the terminology.

But I am very excited about the idea of learning a new sport and getting good at it and racing and having fun with it.  I even downloaded a cycling book last night on my kindle that looked like a good one to fill me on on the basics and beyond.  Before I started reading it, I thought it would be fun to do a blog on entry on my questions and comments and ideas about biking now, so that a year from now when I’m (hopefully) more advanced with the biking thing it would be fun to look back and see what an idiot I was.  SO – here goes (and no laughing at how stupid I am!):

  • Beyond knowing that bikers ride in the same direction as traffic, I have ZERO knowledge of the rules of the road.
  • The bike itself:  I have no clue on switching gears, when to do it, how to do it, why you do it.  I also have no clue on what the various parts of the bike are.  Do I really even need to know this?  Can’t I just get on the thing and pedal?
  • Pedals:  clipping?  Is that what it’s called?  I don’t know how to do it.  It looks scary to me.  It sort of looks dangerous.  Will I get the hang of it?
  • Falling:  sounds like I’m really going to fall at some point, huh?  Is it sort of a right of passage?  Is it not cool to start crying when you fall?  Because I’m pretty sure I’ll start bawling.
  • Terminology:  do you call it biking or cycling?  Is there a difference?  Is one cool to say and one not cool?
  • Terminology:  People have commented on my new bike as a “nice ride”.  Is that what you call someone’s bike?  So I shouldn’t say “nice bike”, I should say “nice ride”?
  • Distance:  I have no idea what an easy, medium and hard distance is in biking.  With running, I know that 3 miles (for me) is ultra easy and if I didn’t have time to even go 3 miles, I wouldn’t bother going.  And I know a 20 mile run is a hard run.  So what is the equivalent in biking?  What’s the distance in biking that if you can’t even go X miles, why bother?
  • Etiquette:  In running there are things I just know to do.  Stay on the right on a path.  Don’t run in a pack that takes up the whole path.  etc.  I have NO clue what the biking etiquette is, other than I do see bikers biking next to eachother, so I think that must be ok.  Do you have to stay a certain distance behind eachother?  What if you have to stop – how do you alert the people behind you and next to you so they don’t go barreling in to you?
  • Accessories:  I bought a bunch of stuff yesterday.  Gloves.  Shorts that look like I’m wearing depends.  Water bottles (free!).  Computer thingy that tracks all my info.  Helmet.  There seemed to be a ton of stuff that I didn’t buy.  What other must have accessories are out there?  I think a lot of my running stuff should work, shouldn’t it (like my nutrition, my spibelt).  What else do I need?
  • Dress:  What’s up with all the crazy colored wearing apparel?
  • Mechanical difficulties:  I have heard about people fixing flats in races.  Seriously, am I really going to need to know how to do that?  Because I still don’t know how to do that on my car – that’s what mechanics at gas stations are for.  Is it hard to fix a flat?  Do I really need to carry that kind of junk around with me to be able to do that?  Does it really happen that often?
  • Safety:  I feel like a helmet isn’t going to be enough for me.  I am a klutz and feel like I should be wearing elbow pads and knee pads.  I suppose that would not be cool though.
  • Miscellaneous:  What things are just NOT cool for a biker to do?  I’m sure I’ll probably be doing or saying all of them and looking like an idiot.  So any tips people could offer  now would be helpful.

This sport seems WAY more complicated than running.  But, like I said, I need a fun new focus and distraction and I am super excited to learn all this stuff and give biking a try.


And, since this is a running blog, I’ll tell you about my morning run.  4 miles, nice and easy. Nothing exciting.  A little shorter than normal b/c of the start of taper and because of a 10 mile speed workout yesterday.

2 thoughts on “Stupid Biking (Cycling?) Questions

  1. Tina Mielke

    I laughed at your post, because I’ve had many of the same questions.
    Hopefully some experienced bikers reply. I do not have any experience with the clip shoes as
    they scare me and I don’t have enough bike experience for them. I do find with biking
    that I am way more aware of my surroundings, because you get going so dang fast and
    I don’t want to biff.
    I was surprised that you didn’t get a pink bike! : )

    1. Well stay tuned for my blog post tonight, where I can tell you what NOT to do with those clips, since I fell two times before I even got out of the parking lot during my “training” this morning! So embarrassing! I definitely need a full body padded suit!

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