Category Archives: Biking For Beginners

Hazzard help for cyclists!

For me, bike riding is freedom. I have the pedal power to transport myself all over the local area, with the wind in my hair and the occasional bug in my teeth! However, I didn’t realise as a newbie that there are potential hazards to be avoided on the way, so let me pass on my findings…

Lefties rule!
Cycle pathsDuring our first ride, Other Half and I rode on the cycle paths in Stevenage at a leisurely pace, side by side, when in the distance, I could see a fellow male cyclist coming towards us. He and I were both on the right hand side of the cycle path; we both had plenty of opportunity to move over, but neither of us did. Hmm I thought, is this some sort of game of chicken bike initiation test? Neither of us budged, (although I moved as far to the edge on the right as I could) and we passed with only a small gap between us.

I tutted and shook my head wondering why he had been so stubborn about staying on my side when Other Half laughingly pointed out that cycle paths observe the same rules as the road i.e. you ride on the left! Unfortunately, the other cyclist was too far gone to hear my apology or see my flush of embarrassment. In my defence, the cycle path was unmarked and it’s only now that I’ve ridden on other routes with painted white lines, that the road-style layout is obvious. Still, another lesson learned…

It’s a bugs life…
Bug in teethFreewheeling down a hill or struggling to get up a steep gradient may create an involuntary smile or grimace, thus leading to the accidental ingestion of various bugs. I’m pretty sure it’s happened to me already and despite not being a vegetarian, I still find it difficult to consider it ‘an extra bit of protein’! I guess only time will tell if I remember to my mouth closed when out riding, but as Other Half will testify, it’s not that often that I don’t have something to say…

URO (Unidentified Random Objects) including:
Bike hazzardsDebris – including tree branches, carrier bags and fast food containers. You see them up ahead but the more you think about not running over them, somehow it seems to bring on the inevitability that you do. A good tip is to keep your eyes firmly on the route ahead instead of staring at the obstacle; I find the chance of avoiding it increase dramatically!
Children on bikes – appearing from nowhere screaming “I can’t stop!” at the top of their voices and zooming past your front wheel with only inches to spare.
Animals – although I’ve only encountered a few dogs off the lead and a horse rider so far, I read this blog post ‘Animals that potentially ruin bike rides’ with great interest.

What are your tips about ‘Things I wish I known when I started cycling’?

My current mountain biking kit for beginners: 2011 Merida Matts 20-MD Bike, Giro Skyla helmet, Altura Ladies Trail Liner Cycling Shorts, Altura Ladies Ascent Baggy Cycling Shorts, Altura Synchro Baggy Short 3/4, Endura Women’s Rapido Mitts

Thanks to sodahead.com for the bug image!

Does my bum look big in padded shorts?

3/4, Baggy and Trail Liner Altura Padded Shorts

3/4, Baggy and Trail Liner Altura Padded Shorts

The world should be a comfier place now I own 3 pairs of padded shorts! Yes, I’ve entered the incredibly glamorous world of bike riding and these fashion forward statement pieces are amongst my newest purchases. It’s doubtful when wearing them that I’ll ask “Does my bum look big in this?” as blatantly, it does. However, I like to think my rounded posterior is more JLo-esque than nappy-esque, and can be happy in this ignorance as I don’t have rear view mirrors on my mountain bike!

Giro Skyla bike helmet

Giro Skyla bike helmet £34.99

My Giro Skyla bike helmet could also give rise to a quick snigger from non-bikers on first glance; it enhances my ears (fortunately, they’re not too big!), leaves tramlines on my forehead from the padding and, flattens my hair in ways straighteners could only dream off. Still, safety is the main priority as my head is worth looking after, so I’m just going to concentrate on whizzing past the smirkers on two wheels…

Endura Women's Rapido Mitts

Endura Women's Rapido Mitts £15.99

Least embarrassing are my Endura Rapido Mitts (known to non-bikers as fingerless padded gloves!) They give me a look of ‘she’s-a-proper-bike-rider’, as well as adding practical comfort. Although I could enter a whole world of bike specific clothing (shoes, socks, lycra leggings, tops etc) I think I’d better actually go out for more than one ride before I start investing…

My current mountain biking kit for beginners: 2011 Merida Matts 20-MD Bike, Giro Skyla helmet, Altura Ladies Trail Liner Cycling Shorts, Altura Ladies Ascent Baggy Cycling Shorts, Altura Synchro Baggy Short 3/4, Endura Women’s Rapido Mitts

The power of Twitter to get a wiggle on…

Twitter iconWow, what a great day to be a customer! The power of Twitter shone through for me this week when I bought some bike shorts from Wiggle. I ordered them late on Tuesday night, chose free first class delivery, and the goods arrived Thursday morning. I tweeted Wiggle that day to convey my joy at their speedy delivery (because I always think you should tell someone if you are happy with their service!)

As I tried the shorts on that night, the padded liner was missing from one pair so, I packaged them up to send back the next day. I tweeted the following that night: 

@wigglebikeshop quick delivery but missing liner in shorts! 😦 testing out your customer services now – reserving judgement on first order!

At 8.45am the next day, I got a tweet from them:

@ThatCopyGirl Sorry to hear that, could you tweet me your order number and I will make sure this issue is dealt with ASAP! Have a nice day!

I retweeted this and added #impressivecustomerservice tag.

Two hours later, I also had an email from them apologising again and offering a £5 voucher for the inconvenience. Well done Wiggle for excellent customer service! 

Long gone are the days of writing letters or ringing customer services – this is the age of social media and instant responses. Tweeting = consumer power!

A mountain bike without the mountain, please!

Race for Life 2011

Yes, my face goes that colour every time I run!

38 minutes 6 seconds is never going to gain me entry into the Olympics, but last Sunday I finished the St Albans Race for Life 5k, six and a half minutes faster than last year.

As proud as I felt at that moment for raising money for charity and not giving up, I also hated every minute of running round that course, so I’m officially switching from being a ‘runner’ to being a ‘biker’.

Yes, that’s right, Other Half and I have invested our pennies in two brand new mountain bikes that arrived this week – I say pennies when in fact it was many pounds; I cannot believe how expensive it is to get a decent mountain bike! After many, many, many hours of research (“By me!” shouts Other Half in the background), we did get a great web deal on two 2011 Merida Matts 20-MD mountain bikes that were £200 cheaper than their usual selling price. There are a few reasons we are trying out the bike route:

  • Biking has GOT to be easier than running for no other reason than I find running really hard!
  • My sister’s Other Half got a bike 2 months ago and has totally transformed into a ‘Slim Jim’ – we want it to be our magic weight loss bullet too!
  • We have lots of cycle paths near to where we live that don’t involve big hills – I’m a fan of flat paths/gentle slopes (as a beginner!)

It’s just a case now of literally getting on our bikes, in our padded shorts… (more on that after the first ride!)

My current mountain biking kit for beginners: 2011 Merida Matts 20-MD Bike