Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My First Long Ride

The first long trip I took was a day trip from Binghamton up to Ithaca for a conference at the end of June. It is about a 50 mile ride. I jumped into this ride (on my brand new touring bike), not totally knowing what I was getting into. This was my first trip with friction gear shifters that I would have to take my hands off of the unfamiliar drop handlebars to access, and any amount of added weight (change of clothing, tent, and sleeping bag)

Like any real beginner, I made a few errors. If one is carrying added weight on a bike, one needs to be quite aware of how the weight is spread out. I strapped a milk crate on my back rack, because I though it would give me more places to bungee down things. I bungeed a sleeping bag and tent high on the rack. The weight was fairly evenly distributed from right to left, but it gave me an incredibly high center of gravity.

 The toughest part of the ride for me was starting to roll. It took me a while to feel comfortable with the seat as high as it should be, as part of learning to bike is being comfortable with being effectively off of the ground, and trusting that you can't really put your feet on the ground. I also didn't shift gears the entire trip. I was too scared to take my hands off of the handlebars! I believe I was in the highest gear the entire ride, even up some hills.

The Slow Tip

I want to copyright the phrase "slow tip". It is what happens when you are riding rather slowly, but can't really stop or do anything but slowly fall to the ground. A good friend of mine took a slow tip when he purchased brand new clipless pedals which require an extra second to get a foot loose to land. He came to a stop then realized he couldn't get a foot free. He slowly fell on his side and scraped up his knee. One issue with the slow tip is the ensuing embarrassment associated with it.

On this trip, I was victim of a slow tip into a ditch. Fortunate both the bike and me were totally fine. I was having trouble getting started, and rather than stop and regain my bearings, I tried to power through, and wound up falling to my right.

I've learned a lot since this trip! Part of how I've developed a decent set of skills was by being in situations new and unfamiliar. To people who don't ride much, the only way to get better is by doing it and a lot! I remember the sheer terror of my first commute and will write about it later!


  1. i'd love to hear more about this trip! I'm pretty intimidated by long trips...

  2. Here's my brief statement on long trips: You start by biking for a while. Then you break and eat some food and relax, then bike some more. Really, the worst that can happen is not too bad: if you get a flat, you stop and fix it. Lousy weather can slow you down, but isn't permanent.
    We'll chat in person!