Admit it, you thought about spring a little bit didn’t you? Maybe a lot with it being the end of February in the Midwest as I write this! This time of year we see a lot of people who come into the shop to get their daily dose of vitamin bike. Sometimes its the itch to get faster, more comfortable or replace a bike they’ve had for many years; often this time of year its someone who signs up for an event ride and has no clue where to start the process.
What’s an “event ride” you ask? Growing in popularity over the past few years, event rides (often including charity rides and others) are the fun, social side of riding. It gives many people a goal for their season or something to look forward to. Most avid cyclists have never raced and never will. Event rides are great because they are fun, social, charitable, fitness based, and they allow riders to ride in a place they may never have ridden before.
We love to get out on events and support riders. Whether it’s the MS150 in MN or Wisconsin, the Red Ribbon Ride, Hartford/ReMax Breast Cancer Ride, Tour De Cure, or the Minnesota Ironman to name a handful, event rides are a great day or couple days of riding sure to test your legs and make new friends on two wheels. The problem many people face once they have been talked into one is how to get ready.
I’ve got a bike! I’m ready right? This is an obvious one, but if you do own a bike, you’re already well on your way. We always recommend making sure your bike is working right and right for you. Your friend’s loaner might sound like a great deal, but if it’s too big for you it’s no fun on a two day ride. If it doesn’t shift reliably, its going to be a chore to finish the day. If you do have a bike, bring it by one of our shops and we’ll take a look at it to make sure its the right size and in good working order.
I don’t have a bike, where do I start? The good news is you don’t have to buy a bike ONLY for this purpose. How else would you like to ride? How do your friends ride? Where do you live? Are you interested in commuting, long distance rides, or short neighborhood trips after work or beautiful summer evenings? A bike is a reflection of you – we’ll have a conversation with you to determine what bike best fits your unique needs.
Protect Yourself! Odds are, the event you signed up for requires a helmet. Why not be comfortable AND safe? Bike helmets are worlds beyond where they were even ten years ago. Fit is critical here, but we can find the right helmet for you, and if matching matters, we’ve got the colors to do so.
Be Comfortable. We mean it; be comfortable. Do you own cycling shorts? No? Get a good pair for every day you ride between washes. If you’re in the saddle for up to 8 hours a day, you owe it to yourself to make sure you can ride the following day. In addition to shorts, wear comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing and be prepared for the weather to change. Some Minnesota events have the distinction of being sunny and 70 degrees or snowy and 20. Some events can swing widely in temps throughout the day. Be prepared.
Be Prepared. We often provide what is called support at these events, from fixing flats to adjusting derailleurs and even replacing a broken part from a bike or rider falling over. We wish we could be everywhere on the course to help out, but we can’t. We recommend carrying a small repair kit on your bike at all times including a tube, patch kit, pump, tire levers, allen wrenches and tools that maybe unique to your bike. We can help you learn how to use those, but even if you are a bit rusty onhow to change a flat, having the tools to do it means someone else can help you.
Ride. Get out and ride as much as you can. Whether you get out for 5 miles a day, and some long rides on weekends, or you can fit in 30-50 miles per day, the more miles per week you get, the happier and more prepared you will be. Erik’s Supported teams participating in the MS150 even lead rides out of stores. There’s no cost to go along for the ride and it’s a great way to meet people.
That’s it. If you signed up for a ride, great! You’ll probably want to keep doing it year after year. Some of the most fun people to ride with can be found on a big ride. If you have any questions leading up to your event, we can get you the answers you need and keep you riding comfortably.
What ride are you doing this summer? Do you have any goals for your season? We’d love to hear them.