Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Click the "Create Account" button now to join.

To disable ads, please log-in.

Shop at TeamEstrogen.com for women's cycling apparel.

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 70
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    497

    how many seasons and/or miles til experienced?

    To disable ads, please log-in.

    An article in Bicycling magazine (I picked it up to read it on the plane) has had me thinking. In the story, a newbie cyclist Jeremy started riding in spring of 2003 and promptly crashed over the next three years many times. Friends were concerned that he wasn't really fit for cycling, even though cycling had made him fit (and the before and after pics are quite a big difference).

    Anyway the article mentioned that they figured it takes several seasons before a new cyclist has developed enough experience - for both most efficient riding, but also for dealing with obstacles, challenges and so on. What are your opinions on this? I am winding down my first season as a cyclist (not too long before winter around here), and I know I have only just started learning, but I also know I have learned a lot.

    Some things I know I can't do that I think a more experienced cyclist probably can - stop up hills easy, stay off the brakes downhill, take turns faster, maybe evade bad things in the road better.

    To solve Jeremy's problem, they tackled several areas, including refitting him to a more appropriate bike, sending him off to an advanced handling clinic etc.

    One thing the article suggested for those who wanted to play at home was basically riding around a grassy field and leaning over to pick up a water bottle, half full without toppling it or yourself. No way I could do that today! The thought of it makes my hairs stand on end. And if that seemed easy, they suggested pouring out more and more water.

    I spend all my time trying to make sure I am right side up and balanced, and I slow down for corners or any other perilous looking things (at least as much as I can predict, but I do worry about someday not being able to predict something).

    How many years for the more veteran riders out there until you just sort of have these skills? Are you still learning things even now? Are there things I could be doing to get more out of my riding, or things to think about for next year?

    TIA.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    Good question! I'm interested in hearing some answers.

    I was talking to my dad recently (he has a decades-old entry level racing Bianchi) about how I never learned many handling skills on my old cruisers as a kid and now I feel so far behind figuring out my road bike. I commented that even the cheesy (yet awesome) 'Breaking Away' movie had the guy who could pick stuff up off the ground and reach down and fix his toe clip, among other things, and he's just an actor. My dad said, "um, I could do that too." He used his bike for fitness and commuting. The last time he went out on the bike regularly I was riding on the back in a baby seat, so I never really thought of him as being exceptionally athletic.

    I'd love some input on the cycling/bike handling learning curve so I can set realistic goals for myself and keep some frustration at bay.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351

    Talking You're an experienced rider when...

    You can pass a motorcycle going downhill.

    You have fixed at least 4 flats on the road (two if they were in the rain.)

    You no longer care how you look in lycra.

    You can clip/unclip w/o falling - or you have decided that clipless pedals aren't required and you're happy with that decision.

    You can ride your road bike in the dirt.

    You have actually used a chain tool. Bonus points if it was on the side of the road.

    You have multiple sets of the same tools and know how to use them.

    You know what you can eat at mile (1)10, (1)20, (1)30 etc.

    You have at least one entire drawer devoted to your summer/winter bike clothing. The off season stuff is put away in a box in the garage/attic/cellar.

    You've learned to ride your own ride and don't care what other people think.

    V.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    3,936
    I started doing pick-up-the-waterbottle-type exercises after about a year and a half of cycling more seriously... on pavement, not grass, mind you. I could have started trying earlier. I also got to try bike-polo (yeah, like polo on a horse, but on a bike...), on the grass though.

    These are good skills to practice. Like doing figure-8s with your bike (on both sides), trying to make smaller and smaller circles, etc.

    And, no, I could never pick up the *"/$( bottle, but almost did. I also fell off my bike once when I locked my left foot into my wheel. That's life. But I did learn lots of skills. I should be practicing more...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    497
    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    You can pass a motorcycle going downhill.

    You have fixed at least 4 flats on the road (two if they were in the rain.)

    You no longer care how you look in lycra.

    You can clip/unclip w/o falling - or you have decided that clipless pedals aren't required and you're happy with that decision.

    You can ride your road bike in the dirt.

    You have actually used a chain tool. Bonus points if it was on the side of the road.

    You have multiple sets of the same tools and know how to use them.

    You know what you can eat at mile (1)10, (1)20, (1)30 etc.

    You have at least one entire drawer devoted to your summer/winter bike clothing. The off season stuff is put away in a box in the garage/attic/cellar.

    You've learned to ride your own ride and don't care what other people think.

    V.
    Well some of this I have done - I never really cared how I looked in bike shorts tho early season pics suggest maybe I should have (heh). I have been able to pace my food intake for distance miles (50+) and next year I want to tackle a century, so I think that'll be ok. Have only summer clothes at present but working on getting some more seasonal items. Much of the early season was about clipless learning and confidence, so I feel pretty set there now. Road bike in the dirt, not so much.

    Most of the tools I haven't used. Maybe that's a good place to start, learn some bike maintenance in the off season time. I guess I was thinking more like handling and riding skills tho.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    133
    That is such a good question. I was thinking along those lines today. Ending my first season with my new road bike. Before that I just played around a little bit with bikes, riding sporatically... I just love riding now! The bike made all the difference. And my body responds well to bike riding. Don't know if obsession is what I'd call this bike thing for me. There is a definite desire to learn as much as I can and be a good rider.

    The beginning of the season I was having an easy time of it. Nothing went wrong as far as flats or encounters of the strange kind. Looking back on it now, my brain was in la-la land, enjoying everything and probably noticing nothing of my surroundings. But within the last few months, the honeymoon has definitely ended. A couple crashes and falls, and the ensuing legalities and repairs and physical recoveries and crud... You kind of think, "gosh, do I really want to do this?" "Do I really want to keep this up?"

    The answer is yes, I do. But I feel different now. Just this week I've noticed I find myself looking at everything so differently. Not just fun and games anymore; there is a serious side to this thing that could mean the difference between life and death in certain circumstances. Of course anything can happen even if you do everything correctly. But learning skills and exposing yourself to differing environments can only enhance your maturity level as a rider. Guess I'm just saying that it isn't only the cycling skills that have to grow and mature; we also have to grow mentally and emotionally as riders. Be aware of probable outcomes. Keep the brain in the game. I know I am SUCH a newbie and will be for quite a while, but something has changed in me.

    If there is anyone in the St Louis area who wants to practice picking up water bottles sometime, give me a holler! Other drills would be cool too. I probably would never do it unless I had someone else to laugh with me. Bikemom- maybe that is something we can do in the bike seminar... And yes, I did say holler.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    4,391
    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    You can pass a motorcycle going downhill.

    You have fixed at least 4 flats on the road (two if they were in the rain.)

    You no longer care how you look in lycra.

    You can clip/unclip w/o falling - or you have decided that clipless pedals aren't required and you're happy with that decision.

    You can ride your road bike in the dirt.

    You have actually used a chain tool. Bonus points if it was on the side of the road.

    You have multiple sets of the same tools and know how to use them.

    You know what you can eat at mile (1)10, (1)20, (1)30 etc.

    You have at least one entire drawer devoted to your summer/winter bike clothing. The off season stuff is put away in a box in the garage/attic/cellar.

    You've learned to ride your own ride and don't care what other people think.

    V.
    Wow - amazingly enough I can actually say yes to all of those......ummm my name is Eden and I'm a bike addict.....
    but I'm not sure if I can pick up a bottle or not.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

    visit my flickr stream http://flic.kr/ps/MMu5N

  8. #8
    Kitsune06 Guest
    I cheated on the bottle thing... outta the seat and leaning the bike out a little the other way. Took a lot of strength to pull it up to the 'right' position though. I don't think you're supposed to do it that way on a road bike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080

    Balance, Weight Distribution, Personality, Instruction & Practice

    I teach folks how to ride bikes. That's what I do for a living. I teach beginners who've never sat on a bike before, experienced racers who've been racing for years, and everyone in between. I think I've just about seen it all when it comes to learning to ride.

    Anyways, I've got a few theories about why we progress at different rates.

    The first has to do with your athletic history. I firmly believe that if you've mastered any balance sport (skiing, skating, cycling, sky-diving, dancing, etc), you can easily pick up another balance sport. By mastery, I mean that you understand the principles behind balance and weight distribution. Afterall, cycling (and other balance sports) are all about balance and weight distribution.

    How many of you really understand why your bike stays upright when it's rolling? Or why it's more stable leaning through a turn? Or why you should sit behind the saddle during an emergency stop or a steep descent? Do you realize that you steer your bike with your hips (not your hands)?

    Unfortunately, most new riders never take the time to learn the basic prinicples behind the sport -- balance and weight distribution. Instead, they learn the more intricate "tricks" of the trade -- cornering, descending, steering, taking one or both hands off the bar, etc. All fine and good, but these are the icing on the cake. These are the implementations of those two basic principles. And if you never really understand those two principles, you'll never really master cycling.

    Okay, that's theory one.

    Now, on to some other thoughts.

    We all learn differently. Some of us have more outgoing personalities than others. Some of us like risk. Some of us have fear or are timid. Some of us are very analytical. Our personality affects the way we approach the sport. While being conservative may prevent you from crashing, it will most likely also prevent you from really understanding how to push your limits and also to understand how the bike works.

    Many of us also never receive instruction in how to ride. Everyone knows how to ride a bike, right? Or, we just get tips from the older gentleman in the club who's been riding for 40 years (whether or not he really knows what he's doing). Participating in a skills clinic or private instruction with a coach is the best way to learn how to ride a bike. If we want to learn to golf, we take lessons. Same with tennis and skiing. And the same should be true with cycling, however I can't tell you how many people I know who mistakenly think they know how to ride. We certainly wouldn't try to drive a car or ride a motorcycling without instruction. Why do we try to ride a bike without learning how to do it properly?

    Most of us just get on the bike and ride. We might learn a little more about HR or cadence or even proper skills, but we never practice those things. If you want to learn to descend like an ace, you need to learn to counter-steer like a pro and be able to do it at speed (20+ mph). To do that, you have to go to a parking lot and practice. A lot. Frequently. If you do take a clinic, you need to practice your skills until you really understand them.

    Whew! Can you tell I'm passionate about this? I see so much potential on the road. I believe just about anyone can become a skilled, confident rider. I wish each one of you could take one of my clinics -- you'd be amazed at what a difference you'd see in your riding.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dorset, England, UK
    Posts
    1,037
    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl View Post
    ......................Whew! Can you tell I'm passionate about this? I see so much potential on the road. I believe just about anyone can become a skilled, confident rider. I wish each one of you could take one of my clinics -- you'd be amazed at what a difference you'd see in your riding.
    OK, can you book me up for a correspondence course, 'cos it's just a little bit too far to commute!

    You guys really get into this cycling thing, way more than in the UK.

    It makes interesting reading though, thanks for taking the time to write it all.

    I have a constant low back problem and am just very wary of doing anything too fast or daring. One thing I would really like to be able to do, is bump or jump up a kerb, I always have to stop and then lift my bike...............doh! BTW, I ride a MTB not a road bike.


    Sally
    Clock

    Orange Clockwork - Limited Edition 1998


    ‘Enjoy your victories of each day'

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,144
    Hi Tasha,

    I thought your questions were interesting. According to Veronica's criteria, I will never be an experienced cyclist! I mean you rode with me and I hope I didn't look like a newbie when I was leading our ride. I think it does have to do with personality differences, risk aversion, and what kind of athletic background we have. I've been riding for 6 years (the first 2 on a street ready mtb). I still cannot master the water bottle thing very well. I wear my Camelback for any ride longer than 20 miles, not only so I don't have to worry about dropping my bottle, but also, I find that I need to drink an incredible amount. On a 50 mile ride I will drink the whole Camelbak of water and one bottle of Accelerade, sometimes 1 and a half. My problem is basically balance and really bad depth perception. I find I just cannot take my right hand off of the bar for anything, except signalling and even that is hard (I"ve practiced that). I can descend at 30 mph but I don't like it. It has to be a fairly straight road for me to do that and most mountain descents aren't straight. I find myself feeling very out of control and scared over about 25 mostly because I don't have the leaning, balance thing right, especially on right corners. So I just go slow. I would rather ride than say I have to practice everything before I can go out and ride. I do want to work on these things, but I need someone to coach me as Velogirl says.
    I skated as a kid, but that didn't seem to help my balance issues. I think I am doing a lot more than I EVER thought I would, especially at the age of almost 53. On the other hand, I feel pretty comfortable in a lot of traffic situations that would have freaked me out 2 years ago. I am cautious and vigilant and I think that makes me feel comfortable. My husband is very aggressive when he commutes in traffic on Rt. 27 and I couldn't do that. I feel like I am assertive, but not aggressive.
    The mechanical stuff is another thing. I know you are a techie, but I am the absolute opposite. I can change a tire, but getting the back wheel on is not easy for me. I have never had to do it on the road. I've only had 2 flats while riding and my husband changed them both, to save time... he can do it with no tools in about 5 minutes! I really don't feel the need to learn to do anything else besides change a flat and grease my chain, which I do. If something else breaks, I would not attempt to fix it. It would be great if we could practice some mechanical stuff together this winter.
    I don't think I'm a newbie, but I am not sure I would ever master some of the other things people have discussed here.

    Robyn

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Hillsboro, OR
    Posts
    5,050
    I have been pondering this exact same topic for a couple of weeks now myself...ever since reading that same article in Bicycling! I'm finishing my second 'season' of cycling (though I plan to ride year round this year) and while I can ride centuries and climb mountains, I still find myself very much wanting to improve my handling skills. (my decents are practically slower than my climbs! )

    Veronica - I can say 'yes' to all but maybe two of your 'criteria' but I know I still have a TON to learn. Actually, my guess is that the Jeremy guy in the article would be able to say 'yes' as well...and he still had issues. I think it was really interesting because while he was fit and fast...and he got there in record time (like 1 season?) but it didn't give him time to develop the proper handling skills. His riding buddies said that he was a menace because he was good enough to get into trouble, but not good enough to get out in time! (this is my dad's theory on 4x4's...they just get you stuck further away from help! )

    Velogirl - very interesting points! Your thoughts on balance interest me greatly. I grew up ice skating...hours a day. I also happen to be blessed with general coordination and athleticism. BUT, when I first started riding, balance was DEFINITELY a big problem for me. Now that I have a bike that fits me better (my first one was too big), my balance has improved, but it's still a weak spot for me (which I never would have guessed). There is no way that I could pick up a water bottle. I have a hard time getting it out of my cage while holding my line...never mind off the ground!! I'd like to try racing, but I know that I'd be a danger to myself and the other riders without some serious bike handling skill improvement. I really want to take a clinic. How would one go about finding something like you described here in my area?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    Quote Originally Posted by Robyn Maislin View Post
    According to Veronica's criteria...
    "It's a joke son. I say it's a joke."

    V.

    When you ask for someone's opinion, that's what you're going to get. It doesn't make it truth.
    Last edited by Veronica; 10-05-2006 at 06:28 AM.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    3,135
    I read about Jeremy and reflected that he's what happens when people don't approach cycling as something to *learn.* These are the guys (tho' not necessarily of the male persuasion) who get strong and fast before they figure out group dynamics or physics (or other factors - like getting overheated and going off the road ... more than once... think and learn, good people!)

    Whether the instruciton is formal or via finding knowledgeable folks and asking, a person can become "experienced" more quickly by doing it on purpose. Practice makes a difference, too -miles in different situations.

    I've got lots and lots of miles - but still consider myself inexperienced about some things (and I'm not being humble... I'm downright ignorant ) Mainly 'cause it just takes me longer to learn some stuff...

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    North Andover, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    1,643
    I'm delighted to hear that Veronica was joking (although I've actually done most of the things in her list).

    I consider myself a pretty experienced cyclist, but I've never tried to pick a water bottle up from the ground - and while that may be a good exercise, it's not something I have any intention of trying. I think that as you continue to ride you will continue to become more comfortable with some of the things you've listed as non-starters. Some of the things will remain though. For example, in spite of the number of years I've been riding, I still have problems getting started on a steep uphill. That's just me - and perhaps if I had more steep hills near my home and spent more time practicing, I could get over that. But it's not something I beat myself up over.

    I'd say, keep riding, set reasonable goals, and enjoy yourself!

    --- Denise
    Last edited by DeniseGoldberg; 10-05-2006 at 06:52 AM.
    www.denisegoldberg.com

    • Click here for links to journals and photo galleries from my travels on two wheels and two feet.
    • Random thoughts and experiences in my blog at denisegoldberg.blogspot.com


    "To truly find yourself you should play hide and seek alone."
    (quote courtesy of an unknown fortune cookie writer)

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •