Step up your game

March 14, 2017

Sarah Braker, senior communications manager

So, you want to make bike riding a bigger part of your life? You could buy an expensive new bike, start riding centuries and cancel all your other weekend plans for the summer. Or, you could make some smaller, less ambitious changes, that can still propel you forward. Here are a few ways to make bicycling a little better every day.

Learn how to fix a flat

There’s one thing that every bike ride has in common: a flat tire can ruin it. One way to step up your bike game is to learn the basic skill of fixing a flat. A simple google search will turn up dozens of how-to videos, and bike shops and coops often offer trainings. If you’re stuck riding close to home because you’re afraid of a flat, learning this skill will seriously broaden your bike riding horizons. You can be a group ride hero, help save a stranded stranger and mostly just have the confidence that a simple flat won’t ruin your day.

Get a rack and panniers

Running errands by bike is great, until it’s time to carry everything you’ve accumulated back home. Getting a rack and some solid panniers can change all that. You’ll be able to carry your belongings to and from work, or all the groceries you need for a great meal, without adding stress and strain to your back. The ability to lug your stuff can change errand-running and commuting from hassles to joys. You’ll get exercise, breeze by traffic and stress less about parking.

Download an app


Image: Mister G.C.

We often hear that one reason people don’t ride more is because they don’t know where to ride. If you’ve got a smartphone, throw that excuse out the window. Google map’s bike directions are a start, but there are other apps that can really make route planning easier. MapMyRide, Strava, blackriver, MTB Project and Ride with GPS are the first ones that come to mind, but we recommend trying out a few to find the one that suits you best. From turn-by-turn directions, to mile splits to downloading other riders’ routes, apps can take the guesswork and stress out of going new places.

Try bike shorts or shoes

Clipless pedals and padded shorts are not for every rider, or every ride, but they can help with efficiency and comfort if you’re willing to look the part. Once you get used to walking around with a padded rear, and falling over a few times when you forget to unclip (read more about that here), you may find that these small wardrobe changes are just what you need to take your bike riding a level up.

Join a group ride


Image: Simon James

If you’re new to bike riding, joining your local cruiser ride can help you gain confidence at a slow and welcoming speed. If you’re trying to become a better and faster rider, a more challenging group ride can push you toward those goals. The side benefits of any group ride are pretty sweet: you’ll go places you’ve never ridden before and make new friends. Your nearest bike shop or local advocacy group should be able to tell you when and where to join.

What small steps have you taken to improve your bike riding?

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