It’s very easy for seasoned riders to take for granted how intimidating our sport can be to the average person.
The process of becoming a “cyclist” is much like joining a cult, minus the matching jumpsuits and sneakers. There’s a befuddling lexicon — you clip-in to clipless pedals. Not to mention an absurd, self-imposed style guide that seeks to regulate everything from body hair to proper sock length.
There are also intimidating technical aspects of the sport that we take for granted.
I’m not even talking about changing a flat tire (tube, actually). The simple act of shifting can be very intimidating for new riders, particularly for first-time mountain bikers who are also trying to focus on balance, braking and line choice.
I’ve been semi-serious about riding since I was a teenager, so many of our sport’s esoteric conventions seem normal to me. That is, until I try to explain things to someone just getting into cycling.
Here are five knowledge nuggets I’ve frequently shared with new riders over the years:
- Don’t wear underwear under your chamois.
- There are some legitimate reasons for cyclists to shave their legs, but you don’t have to.
- Yes, you should lube a squeaky chain. No, you shouldn’t use WD-40.
- You don’t have to use clipless pedals to be a “serious” mountain biker.
- Spandex / Lycra is always optional.
Over to you...
What advice would you share with people interested in joining our ranks?