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First impressions of road biking

Neil GrubbNeil Grubb Posts: 38
edited January 2017 in Road beginners
Last April my car broke down and took a few days to get fixed. I dragged my seldom-used hybrid bike out of the garage and discovered it was as quick cycling the four miles to work as driving. This became the daily routine, and I've cycled to and from work most days since. This was at least some exercise, having in my 30s been a decent runner but having not exercised regularly since a skiing accident and knee surgery three years ago. I began to pay attention to the work changing-room chat as I was now on the periphery of the cycling clique! Several colleagues completed the Etape Caledonia in the summer, some with impressive times, and I began to think about trying a road bike for the first time. After getting some good and some not-so-good advice from local bike shops, I took a risk and ordered a nice looking Planet X ProCarbon road bike (black, with orange bar tape - on my wife's advice!) through CycleScheme on the strong recommendation of two friends at work who had the same.

I've lurked on Bike Radar for a while so read about pedals, and opted for mountain-bike style SPD pedals as it allows for walking around without too much trouble. I took the advice and practiced clipping in and out while cycling round the block, thinking 'this is okay'. Then I went on my first ride - Portobello, Edinburgh to Gullane 17 miles or so along the east coast. There is a particularly nice German cake shop there, so a good first target. I took it easy at first, finding the forward-leaning riding position quite alien, and having forgotten I was clipped in, flailed around like an idiot but avoided actually falling off at the first set of lights! The same happened again about a mile on :-) After the first couple of miles getting used to the bike and it's weird SRAM shifters I tried increasing the pace along a nice flat stretch at Musselburgh - O.M.G.!! - this thing is a flying machine! - so much quicker and more response than my old hybrid - I love it! In a wave of enthusiasm I rode as hard as I could outbound, noticing that I could feel every bump in the road on those narrow, high pressure tyres. But wow, all of a sudden I realised what cycling on a decent bike was like. Cake shop reached, and average speed not bad at all (yes, I used Strava on my first ride...). One cherry frangipane and an espresso later and it was time for the ride back. Ah, wait a minute, this seems harder. What's that blowing into my face - uh-oh, I've been significantly wind-assisted on the way out! So the ride back was a bit harder and slower, but I still loved it. After that, four or five rides over the next few weeks including between hospitals during weekends on duty, usually 20-30 miles, as well as the work commute on the hybrid.

'Why don't you join a club ? It's more fun and you'll go faster riding in a group' was a suggestion made by several people. Last Sunday I took the plunge, a little nervously I'll admit, and joined my local club PortoVelo for their Sunday ride. They're a smallish, informal group and don't take themselves too seriously, and I was impressed by their website, and the prompt and friendly reply when I emailed. A group of 28 cyclists set out with the intention of the fitter riders doing a fitness ride, and the rest doing an intermediate ride. I had intended to do the latter but at the split, in a haze of enthusiasm, joined the fitness ride. I'd never ridden in a group before - I knew but didn't appreciate the aerodynamic advantage of group riding. the pace was fast for me, but so exhilarating. After 20 miles or so I took a longish turn at the front with the ride leader and it was great - I'm sure not so fast but to me it felt like being at the front of an express train! But approaching 30 miles and after some hashy gear changes on a hill, and falling off the group, I realised how much it was pulling me along - if I don't get back with the group I'll be dropped! (PortoVelo never really drop cyclists but it would have been embarrassing turning up on a shiny new bike on the fitness ride and holding the group up!). But I managed to catch up and sit in at the back until a much wanted café stop - tea, water and another very nice cake, and a good chat - then the 20 miles or so home. Thankfully downhill mostly and again at a good pace. What a brilliant experience - by far the furthest I have cycled and a confidence boost for this year's Etape for which I have revised down my estimated finish time, realising that it would be better to be confident than pessimistic, and enjoy the advantage of group riding with cyclists going at a decent speed. And now looking forward to this Sunday's ride!

So for anyone thinking about taking the plunge into the world of road bikes - I would say do it, enjoy it, join a club - it's so exhilarating and such great fun!

p.s. Lisa, my wife, wants a road bike now!

Posts

  • peatpeat Posts: 1,242
    This is good. Welcome to madness.
  • hsiaolchsiaolc Posts: 492
    wow long post!!!]

    Welcome to road riding!
  • Welcome to BR and now kiss all your free cash goodbye!
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • You'll know you've "got it bad" when you start thinking about riding a decent ride and suddenly the urge to poop hits you. :lol:

    No joke, the old theory of "poop at least 3 times before a race" or going before a century ride. Now it's just enough to think about it to trigger the response. :roll:
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,123
    You'll know you've "got it bad" when you start thinking about riding a decent ride and suddenly the urge to poop hits you. :lol:

    No joke, the old theory of "poop at least 3 times before a race" or going before a century ride. Now it's just enough to think about it to trigger the response. :roll:

    I think you'll find that's just you....
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    Good stuff. Enjoy!
  • Nice post!

    After years of cycling out towards Gullane I can tell you that wind is just about always easterly. I am constantly amazed at the start of each new season how well I've managed to keep my fitness up.

    Until I turn round for the trip back in to Edinburgh.

    Which cake shop? I usually pass through. Sounds like I should stop...

    Keep on enjoying it.
    __________________________________________
    >> Domane Four Series > Ridgeback Voyage
  • Up until a couple of years ago I lived near Meadowbank, and that East Lothian coastal route was the basis of most of my rides. I do miss a nice flat, fast wind-assisted run out to North Berwick - but less so labouring back home into a 25mph headwind! I don't exactly miss the 27 sets of traffic lights between home & Musselburgh race course, either!

    These days I'm in West Lothian which tends to be not quite as breezy - but all the roads go up...
  • Jerry185Jerry185 Posts: 143
    keef66 wrote:
    You'll know you've "got it bad" when you start thinking about riding a decent ride and suddenly the urge to poop hits you. :lol:

    No joke, the old theory of "poop at least 3 times before a race" or going before a century ride. Now it's just enough to think about it to trigger the response. :roll:

    I think you'll find that's just you....

    Nope, me too. Onset of exciting moments causes the body to release adrenalin, which is nature's way of getting rid of all waste before combat (and biking is deadly serious). Had a mate in the Force who needed to go for a poop just before any house raid :roll:
  • I need that after a mile or so of running but that is absolutly nothing to do with being excited.

    WhoTF gets excited about running?
    Advocate of disc brakes.
  • haydenmhaydenm Posts: 2,934
    Just to say Neil, I very much appreciate the name of your club. I keep thinking I should join a club really

  • Which cake shop? I usually pass through. Sounds like I should stop...

    Keep on enjoying it.

    Falko is the cake shop - amazing food but get there before midday to have the best selection - the cakes sell fast!
  • Jerry185 wrote:
    keef66 wrote:
    You'll know you've "got it bad" when you start thinking about riding a decent ride and suddenly the urge to poop hits you. :lol:

    No joke, the old theory of "poop at least 3 times before a race" or going before a century ride. Now it's just enough to think about it to trigger the response. :roll:

    I think you'll find that's just you....

    Nope, me too. Onset of exciting moments causes the body to release adrenalin, which is nature's way of getting rid of all waste before combat (and biking is deadly serious). Had a mate in the Force who needed to go for a poop just before any house raid :roll:

    I originally read it as advice before a race over on slowtwitch forums: try to poop 3 times before a race or fun contest

    The bit about the Force guy needing to go, that's funny. :mrgreen:

    On a more normal note, it's amazing how fun it gets once you get a little stronger and little more confident after those first 6 months or so.

    Losing weight and being in shape is a plus. Doing my first FTP test was quite humbling, even being rather normal weight. Scoring a 2.5 when people in some clubs score 4's is like whoa. There's no more weight to lose, just work to do.

    One thing I'm still missing out on is any group or other camaraderie. I logged 666.6 miles last year, of which 630 were alone. Almost to 100 this year and all alone again. I'd like to ride with a partner once in a while and experience that advantage of being in line and swapping effort.
  • Jerry185Jerry185 Posts: 143
    Burnthesheep: try sportives or group training rides in Mallorca/Girona/Canaries/Alps.
    I'm about eighteen months into cycling now and never thought it would be the degree level of learning it required - if you're keen on improving and want to take note of bike specs, nutrition, fitness and technique. Every day's a school day
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