Am I a happy cycling noob? You betcha bottom dollar!!

Before I delve into the excitement surrounding my first ride, I had better take you back in time just a little. The stage is set; it is approximately one week in the past, and we are on a brief journey to my local LBS.

Enter stage left: One early 30’s male, slightly overweight, with a mission to buy a bike.

Enter stage right: One ultrafit LBS assistant rapidly bearing down upon his prey

Me: Hi, I’d like to buy a bike.
LBS guy: [thinks to himself “we’ve got a live one!”] I think we can help you out with that.. what type of bike were you after?

Me: 2010 Scott S20… size XL
LBS guy: Ahhh.. .nice bike, they’re just over here. What are you upgrading from?

Me: Ummmm…. it’s my first bike.
LBS guy: [hook/line/sinker .. reel him in] Nice choice. Unfortunately we don’t have any XL, but I’ll get on the phone and we’ll have it here for you in a couple of days.
Me: Awesome… that was easy.

LBS guy: Now, do you have pedals?
Me: [shocked/embarrassed/WTF?] Are you serious? I’m paying that much and there aren’t any pedals?
LBS guy: hahahahaha! [chuckle] Ok… have a look at these; they should be a good start for you.
Me: Shimano R540 Silver… ok… sounds good. [Thinks to himself “small peddles?”]
LBS guy: Ok… what size shoes?
Me: 12-13.
LBS guy: Ok.. Here you go, these should do the job.
Me: Merida Road Carbon R white/silver… hmmm… ok. [thinks to himself “bit gaudy looking? What’s wrong with the volleys?]

…… time ticks by ….. helmet purchased … 3 tyre levers … spare tube… more time ticks by… minipump…. bottle cages…. Sigma BC 1606L DTS Cadence computer … further time goes by, and the shopping basket continues to grow.

LBS guy: Ok… that will be $xxxx
Me: [turning pale … “my wife is going to kill me …. twice over!”] Thanks mate. You’re a champ. See you when the bike is in.

….. let’s not document my wife’s reaction… this is a family channel after all….

…. phone call 5 days later … bike is ready!

Back to the LBS and there is a beautiful sound of harps chiming and angels singing in harmony. A bright glow comes from the corner, and there she is…. in all her glory. A quick measure and fit, some innocent frame caressing, and I now have the new toy at home. I stand there in front of her … proud as punch; a smile from ear to ear; nervous with anticipation, and absolutely petrified with fear. The last 5 days have been spent trolling through the bowels of the internet and attempting to educate myself as best as I could about anything and everything cycle related. No theory could be put into practice, but I am storing as much info as I can. Whilst this may sound like a good start, it actually had a very negative effect on my confidence.

The number one thing that stood out for me after all this self education was “You WILL fall over the first time you use cleats”, closely followed by “You WILL forget to unclip at the lights and embarrass yourself”. I can’t do this…. I don’t want to damage the bike… I don’t want to look like a fool… I don’t want to hurt myself. Some time went by; I ummed and ahhhed whilst pottering aimlessly around the bike. I played with buttons on the computer… double checked the tyres … double checked that I had reclasped the front brake on after taking the wheel off. Right.. Enough of this procrastination.. Time to harden up… Let’s do this!

First foot clipped…. initial push…. second foot clipped……… I’m riding! Gear changes up… gear changes down…. I’m still riding, and man she is a sexy bit of kit! Up a hill… down a hill… along the straight… all is going well. It’s time to practice unclipping.

To my left is a nice soft area of grass which looks reasonably comfortable. No cars are in site… no people are around… and there are no foreseeable obstructions. Theory says push heel of foot outwards… so let’s give it a bash. 1… 2 …3 …. click. A nervous look around… I am still upright! I am still moving and I am still alive! I look down. There it is in all its glory… one unclipped shoe! My chest is puffed up… pushed out… and I am as happy as a pig in mud. Click! Clipped in again! Click! Out again! You put your left heel out… you put your cleat back in… you put your left heel out and you shake it all about! I’m stoked… over the moon, and salubrious. All has gone to plan… exactly the confidence builder I needed. It’s time for a ride around the little circuit I mapped out.

All and all the circuit went very well. I successfully stopped at a red light, unclipped, and stood there stable. Took the time to make a quick little note to self regarding shifting down (Not sure if that’s the right terminology… the easier one?) a few gears so that it’s easier to accelerate from a stand still. Slowed right down at one particular roundabout and unclipped as there was a fair bit of traffic around and I wasn’t certain whether I would be stopping or not. Perhaps overly cautious on this occasion, but with time I will be able to judge the difference between nervous caution and necessary caution.

Change gears… unclip… roll into driveway. Left foot down…. unclip…. right leg over…. home in one piece. The initial hurdle is over, and it’s now time to start mapping out a training regime. What an awesome experience, and what an outstanding first ride. Bring on tomorrow.

For history sake, here are some stats from the Sigma of my first ride.

Date: 13/01/2010
Distance: 8.81klm
Ride Time: 19 mins 53 secs
Avg Speed: 25 km/h
Max Speed: 34.9 km/h
Avg Cadence: 82rpm

Until next time, enjoy the fresh air and happy pedalling!