Cycling basics

Safety and comfort

  • Read the Bicycle Laws of North Carolina on the North Carolina Department of Transportation web site.
  • Always wear a helmet. It is the most important piece of safety gear you own.
  • Sun or cycling glasses are a big help. They prevent bugs and debris from hitting your eyes as you glide along the road.
  • Once you start riding more consistently, invest in a pair of cycling pants. They will feel a little funny as you get used to them, but on longer rides they are invaluable.
  • Wear tight fitting clothes. Loose clothing can get tangled up in your spokes or gears.
  • In the winter, put on enough layers so that you are just a little chilly at the beginning of the ride. You will warm up as the ride goes along.
  • Carry the items and tools you need to fix flats: tire levers, a couple of spare tubes, a patch kit, and some sort of pump (either cannisters or a portable pump). Glueless patches work fine to get you home, but they are only a temporary repair.
  • Make sure the bike you buy fits you. The wrong size bike is an expensive mistake.
  • If your knee hurts in the front, raise the saddle. If your knee hurts from behind, lower the saddle.

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Nutrition

Cycling can be a high intensity sport. Staying hydrated and maintaining calorie fuel is key. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. If you are on your bike for more than an hour, you will need food.

  • To stay hydrated, take small drinks often. Until you get the habit, every time you see another rider take a drink, reach for your bottle. Some riders like water, others prefer sports drinks such as Gatorade. Experiment to find what works best for you. Especially during the summer months, make sure you remain hydrated when off the bike as well. Help your body absorb more water by adding a little lemon to each glass of water.
  • Regularly refuel your body. Sports drinks help, but they are not enough for longer rides. Riders risk "hitting the wall" where the body has used up its supply of readily available fuel. It's better to eat small amounts often rather then a larger amount all at once. Before the ride take in carbohydrates, such as a peanut butter and banana sandwich, raisin bran cereal, oatmeal, fig bars. Bring something lite to eat during the ride, such as power bars, granola bars, or fig bars.
  • Within an hour after a challenging ride, you will want to eat some protein. You have broken your muscles down during the ride, and they need protein to build back stronger.

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Building strength

  • Spinning is key to building strength. It is more effective to pedal at a higher revolutions per minute (RPMs or cadence) than to tire yourself out in a higher gear. Generally speaking, 70-90 RPMs are recommended.
  • If your leg muscles burn on fairly level terrain, you are probably not spinning enough, and should move to a lower gear and spin faster.
  • If you are breathing hard on level ground, you may be spinning too fast, and should move to a higher gear and lower cadence.
  • Remaining in higher gears over time is bad for your knees.
  • An indoor spin class at the gym is a great environment to learn spin techniques and get used to the feeling to pedaling at higher RPMs.

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Group Ride Etiquette

  • Pick The Right Group Ride

    Group-ride levels and objectives vary. Determining the group's goal and pace will ensure that you join a ride that's right for you. Each CBC ride is posted with the anticipated pace over the complete ride. If a 72-mile route is posted as an average 17 mph, that means you should be able to maintain the 17 mph average over the total 72 miles. There are points on all rides where you can bail out, meaning take a shortcut back to the brewery, if needed. Do not be shy to bail out; better to finish strong than push yourself and not able to finish at all.

  • Don't be late

    CBC rides are timed to get all riders from all routes back to the brewery at the same time. Group rides typically start within minutes of the official starting time. If you're late, you'll miss out. Plus, if you hold the group up, you'll make a bad first impression. And, don't forget to allow for donning your equipment, pumping up your tires and reassembling your bike if you drive to the start. It's a good idea to arrive at least ten minutes early.

  • Ride Carefully And Considerately

    Bikes are considered vehicles, just like cars, and are required to obey the same traffic laws. And, getting a traffic ticket or placing your fellow riders in danger is certain to make a bad impression. Make sure that any actions you take are possible for those behind you. Avoid darting in front of cars while making a left or crossing an intersection when only 2 or 3 riders can successfully get across. It's a natural tendency to follow the rider ahead of you and having to make a split-second decision whether to cross or not places the cyclists behind you in jeopardy.

  • Travel as a group

    If someone in your group has an accident or a flat tire, the group should all stop together. Once the situation is assessed, the leader will decide what to do and may tell some of the riders to go on.

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