(click pic for more info on her bike or click here for G.I.'s LBS)
A few weeks ago my talented photographer friend; Tammy from Grand Island, (click here to see her site) wrote me to say that she was buying her first bike since childhood.
"Hey (edited to conceal my secret identity) how are things going? I wanted to tell you since your a biking freak. I have not rode a bike in 20 ish years.. and I went out and spent $300 on an awesome bike at Wayne's with 7 speeds. I am so nervous about riding i am soooooooooooo out of shape and when I test drove it I almost hit a parked truck and car. I'm terrified. Any pointers for an old lady like me? LOL"
She should have known better than to ask someone as long winded as me, but here was my response. Did I overlook anything? Click comments and LMK.
"OMG - Ha! That's freaking awesome! Way to go! I'm so proud of you!
Wear a helmet (very most important rule!) you'll only feel dorky till you wreck the first time, from then on you'll feel safe. Plus guys think chicks in bike helmets are HOT! And it sets a good example for kids. Cheap wal-mart helmets are as good as anything.
Lower your seat at first so you can put your feet down till you have good balance (first 5 miles or 1/2 hour or so) then raise it till your leg is almost strait when your foot is flat on the bottom of your peddle stroke. (it's higher than you'll probably feel comfortable with) but your feet aren't supposed to touch the ground unless you hop off the seat. Raising your seat this high will keep you from feeling tired and be MUCH better for your body. I learned the hard way. Last year my knees were killing me, this year, no problems at all. I wish someone would have told me this when I first started.
Don't trust cars! Stay out of their way.
Spend $7 on a spare tube & tire lever and get one of those cute bags for under the seat to put it in if you ride farther from home than you want to push your bike. You can change a tube in 3 or 4 minutes, it's very easy. I've only had one flat in 2973 miles, but that's because I have a spare tube. If I didn't carry one I'd get a flat. (Murphy's law)
Take tons of pictures of your bike rides. They'll be adventures you'll want to remember. (hey, send me a picture of your new steed!)
Your butt will hurt, (but only at first) don't waste money on a softer seat or a gel pad or fancy padded cycling shorts, if you ride several times a week your rear will stop hurting after the first two or three weeks. I guarantee it. And it won't bother you again unless you stop for awhile. (over the winter)
Don't ever try to do anything too athletic, start out small and be proud of each ride. Huge epic rides will make you feel exhausted and keep you from wanting to ride more.
Start a photo journal or blog. It'll help you remember the rides and teach you to look for something worth documenting on every ride.
Ride in low gears. (what cyclists call) "Mashing" gears (going slow in high gears) is murder on legs and will make you tired fast. Much better to spin fast than peddle hard.
Smile at everyone, other cyclist, joggers, dog walkers, (especially) kids, motorist, etc. it makes them wish they were cool like you.
Eat before you get hungry. Drink before you get thirsty.
Even when you don't feel allot like riding. Take it around the block. That way you won't feel like a failure or feel lazy. Who knows, once on it you might go even farther.
Make some kind of goal right now. Say to ride at least 5 minutes 4 days a week. And at least an hour once a week.
Buy a odometer / speedometer - their about $20, and so totally worth it! I'd buy one right away so you always know what you've done since buying your bike.
If you are doing it for your health document your measurements right now. I don't ride for my health, but I've been documenting my weight every Friday morning for around 3 years. It's interesting how it fluctuates. (I've gained every winter, then it comes off in summer)
When you peddle, sit still! Don't sway, or bob or lean into your peddle strokes and don't swerve around, ride in a strait line. I can always tell when my kids have rode too far, they do all those things when they get tired and it just makes it that much harder.
Wear shades to look cool and keep bugs out of your eyes. I also have a quarter sized mirror in my bike bag (it was a wedding decoration) that works good to pick bugs out of your eyes if your out on a trail.
Write down your serial number! Don't put it off, do it now. (probably have to flip your bike over, it's probably under the frame)
Ride to Annabel's and order a peanut butter shake in recognition of me. I miss them terribly!
Always carry a couple of bucks for an emergency bottle of water or snickers. I once rode 20 miles out in the country on a hot day with no money. I ran out of water and stopped at a antique store to fill my bottle, the building didn't have running water, but the shop keeper had bottled water, she gave me one. I felt like a heal for not having any money with me. Don't be humiliated like I was.
Ease off the peddle stroke a bit when shifting, it's easier on your bike. Also, downshift BEFORE getting to a hill or coming to a stop. Augh! My kids can't seem to master this.
Once you've got a speedometer try to maintain a speed (9 mph would be good to start), then count your rpm's, how many times does your right foot hit the bottom of the peddle stroke in a minute. Your rpm's should be around 80. Higher than that and your using too low of a gear and less than 80 rpm means you should shift down to a lower gear (your mashing gears).
You might gain weight at first. (click here) don't let it get you down, I've lost weight every week since then. Just don't stop riding.
If your hands go numb: Buy some padded riding gloves. or Loosen your grip. or Change your hand positions more often.
If your neck or back hurt: Relax, don't tense up your shoulders or arms so much.
When peddling, don't just push down from 12:00 to 3:00 try to peddle from 3:00 to 6:00 too, like the same motion you'd use to wipe mud off your shoe. You'll be a lot more efficient and keep from getting tired so fast.
Need help prioritizing? Most important, buy a helmet, then a tube & tire lever, then a speedometer / odometer as you have money.
I don't listen to music when riding, but to each their own. I like to hear (cars, mean dogs, etc) and feel safer without music.
On bike trails, ride on the right side and when you come up from behind someone say "on your left" so they know that your going to pass them.
Bring your bike to Lincoln sometime and you can see first hand how cool the trails are. I'd drop what I'm doing anytime to ride with you.
I'm really, really proud of you. I think it's so cool you got a good bike! You rock."
I also knew of these bike blogs I thought she would like: