Tips for Road Biking
If you're just a beginner on the road, or you feel you just need to freshen up on your riding knowledge, here are some helpful tips when riding your road bike!
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Speed: As the terrain changes on your ride, you'll need to shift gears in order to maintain a steady pace. Under most conditions, it's usually most efficient to pedal between 80–100 revolutions per minute (rpm). Anything faster or slower can cause you to become fatigued. If you find it hard to pedal at an average pace, then you're probably riding in too high of a gear–simply shift to a lower gear. If you think you're pedaling too fast with no resistance, you might want to shift up to a higher gear.
There are five main parts of the standard bicycle that let you shift gears and change how easy it is to pedal your bike. They are comprised of the following:
- front chainrings
- rear cassette
The left shifters control the front chainrings while the right shifters control the rear cassette. Using your left shifter will result in a large jump in the resistance of the pedals, while using your right shifter will fine-tune the resistance. Ideally, you want to feel some resistance but not so much that it is difficult to pedal smoothly.
Only shift when you’re pedaling and use only one shifter at a time. Also, don’t pick a gear that will put your chain on opposite extremes of the front cogs and rear cassette at the same time. Called cross-chaining, this is where you’re most likely to drop or break your chain.
Try to anticipate the terrain and shift just before you need to. When you approach a stop, it is prudent to shift down, so you can easily get started again from a fully stopped position.
Typically, the front brake is operated by the left brake lever and the rear brake is operated by the right brake lever. For beginner cyclists, it’s best to feather both brakes at the same time.
Where Should You Look?
Keep your eyes focused 20–30 feet ahead so you can anticipate turns and obstacles in your path. Don't look down at the front wheel; instead, look where you want to head. Avoid staring at obstacles you want to avoid as focusing your eyes on an obstacle makes you track to it.
When getting ready to descend, move toward the back of the saddle and place your feet level. This will keep your center of gravity over the bike, protect your pedals from hitting the pavement on sharp turns and allow you to shift your weight side to side as needed to help you handle tighter curves.
When getting ready to turn, brake and slow your speed before entering the turn. Head for the outside corner of the turn then lean the bike into the turn (not your body) by gently pushing on the handlebar and pedal on the inside of the turn. As you come out of the turn, start pedaling again.
And of overall, be safe and have fun!