Ever heard that totally cliche saying that normally refers to something relatively easy to learn? Well, it’s bullshit. Or the genius who started this saying never rode a road bike with clipless/clipin pedals around people with a wish to kill bikers with their cars (especially those who fall into the “Sunday Drivers” category).
When I first bought my new bike, I was ridiculously terrified of trying to learn something new at my ripe old age of
9626. But darnit, I was bound and determined to not let some stupid pedals win me over. It took me a few weeks of practice but I feel like I am finally getting to a place where I am not a hazard on the road when biking. At least not the whole time I am out anyways…
However, I am now finding there are certain things about biking that I never knew before and no one ever warned me about. Here are a few rules of the road I have learned in the last 3ish weeks:
1) Road rash hurts SO much worse when you fall a height of 5′+ rather than falling when you are five and probably more like 3′+ tall. Way more than a little princess band-aid can fix up.
2) Road bikes actually go FAST! Making said falls so much more painful if they happen at any kind of speed.
3) Cars will inevitably be annoyed you are on their road. Last I checked I had as much of a right as you to be on the road in your car. The most dangerous drivers are those I would describe as Sunday Drivers. I think you know what I mean. For some reason, a large target appears on my back when said drivers are near…
4) In my opinion, the rule of yielding at intersections/crossing should be as follows: runner/walkers always have the right of way, then real bikers (aka, those who pedal and are on two wheels), then sitting bikers (ESPECIALLY those with powered bicycles?!?)and finally cars. Just because you have more power does not mean you can bud ahead and take out a walker/biker with your car/powered go-kart/bicycle thingy.
5) Helmets are not optional. Stupid looking and total hair-do ruiners, yes, but optional, no.
6) It’s not OK to go topless on a bike. Unless you have rock-hard abs of steel. Then yes, there is a double standard. But if your belly flops on the handlebars? Yeah, that’s gross…
7) Drinking while riding a bike is even more challenging than clipping in pedals. For this reason, always leave your water bottle in the open position. It’s 200x harder to both open the bottle and drink while riding without falling on your face.
8) You will get hit by bugs/stung by bees while riding. This will hurt and cause you to fall off your bike.
9) You don’t have to be nice to people when you pass them going the opposite direction on the bike. (something I often feel compelled to do when running) In other words, it’s fine to keep that scowl on your face as long as you want! Especially when said powered bicycle riders try to run you off the road.
10) You heart rate will not get as high as it does when running so it’s not a substitute. A compliment to running, yes, but it’s (so far for me anyways) endorphin high free. Unless you count the adrenaline rush you get when you start to fall but just barely catch yourself – that DOES indeed make your heart rate accelerate.
So that is what I have learned thus far. If you are contemplating getting a bike/riding the one you have, my advice is stock up on first aid gear, buy a helmet and have fun*! Eventually you will start to feel more in control of the situation and really, really enjoy it. Or at least I do! Maybe that’s my need for speed finally getting a little action?! Clearly that never happens with running…
*I am not trained to tell you this so please don’t take my word for it. You may be much more graceful than me and not require band-aids. If so, more power to you.