Overcoming the Big Three Barriers
Master Clip-in Pedals, Shifting Gears, and Fixing Flats
Recent surveys indicate 60 percent of Americans are ‘interested, but concerned’ about giving bicycling a try. They get the health benefits, economics, freedom, and those childhood memories of bikes are typically joyful.
But, their concerns often hold them back. Basic safety fears aside, there are three basic skills that frustrate every beginner cyclist and keeps them from riding.
- Using Clip-in pedals
- Shifting gears
- Fixing a flat tire
For those three basic skills, nothing beats learning from a experienced rider and practicing on your own. There are nuances and mastering these three skills takes time.
Too many folks, however, show up to the day of the big ride with zero knowledge of these three basics.
While I could write a primer on all three, our friends at Global Cycling Network have made my job, and your education, a lot easier.
Below are links to some how-to videos that can help you get started with your mastery of those skills.
Here are two fantastic videos that explain clip-in pedals:
Below are links to two great videos on shifting gears. The first is simply how they work. Note: there are a variety of different shifters on the market and each requires some education. The second video explains sorting out when to shift on the road regardless of the system you choose.
Probably the biggest fear of any beginner cyclist is the punctured tire (what our British friends at GCN call a ‘tyre.’) An experienced rider will be able to do this in under five minutes, just like the video suggests. But different tires, wheels and tubes can present different challenges. We can pretty much guarantee that the weather for your first roadside repair will not be that pleasant. Remember, when in doubt, use the “Italian” tool kit: your mobile phone!
GCN is a great resource for a lot of basic – and some not-so basic – bicycle education. While it cannot supplant properly learning from a actual on-the-road training with veteran riders, the online presenters have some impressive credentials. And those Brits are so damned articulate. You’d think they actually invented the language.
Richard Fries is the Director of Cycling Experience for the Best Buddies Challenges. With more than 40 years experience, he has been a racer, commuter, tourist, promoter, advocate, journalist and commentator on the sport and lifestyle of cycling. Having raced at the professional level both in America and Europe, Fries is well known as a race announcer having called countless USA Cycling National Championships, World Cups, and UCI World Championships. But he is also a tireless advocate having recently served as the executive director of MassBike. You can follow him on Strava to learn more.