Youth riding bikes

Here is a listing of common mistakes that you can avoid if you take time to prepare.

MISTAKE #1 Don't downplay the task of mental preparing.

There is a great need to be mentally prepared for what might happen while on a tour. People quit their trip because they let things get to them. They are usually prepared but they don't have the capability to handle the difficult times when everything seems to go wrong and they cannot work through them. You need to convince yourself that you can make it no matter what happens. In another section, I wrote that my favorite two words to think about when things seem to be at their toughest are " Surf's up !".

Mistake #2 Don't think that you can train for the ride as you go.

People tend to believe that they can get in shape during the first week of their tour. They find out quickly that this isn't the case. It should be done much earlier. Start training for your tour at least two to three months before your starting date.

At least three times a week, you should go out for at least a fifteen mile ride. After the fifth time out, try to raise the distance up to twenty miles. With each ride, try to raise the mileage gradually. This slow and easy approach is always best.

If you had already planned your trip itinerary, find out the distance of your longest day. If that distance is for example ninety miles, you should be able to ride at least seventy miles in a day without much problem. Try some long training days to see how your body reacts to them.

Mistake #3 Don't think you can head out fully-loaded and not have any problems.

Take at least two training rides with your bike fully loaded. This is especially needed if you have never ridden a bike with large bike bags (panniers). The extra weight of fully or partially loaded panniers can change your bicycle into a different beast when it comes to handling and stability.

A heavier bicycle has to be braked earlier to come to a complete stop in time. You need to stay on top of your bike more in turns. If you lean too far in a turn, your front panniers might hit the ground. The stress on the front wheels will also be greater because of the added weight so you need to be more careful on rough roads.

Mistake #4 Don't overburden your bike.

Try to take as little as possible. The backpacking "ounces count" can go as well for bicycle touring. If you plan to use something just once, it's not best to carry it in the first place.

You actually need between thirty-five and forty pounds of gear if you plan to go out for at least two weeks. Once you have got this weight, you have also packed for a three month tour. All you have to do is re-use the stuff.

People have the tendency to pack more than what is needed like clothes. They overestimate what they might need because of weather factors. You don't need to carry a windbreaker, a rain jacket, and an in-between jacket. Layer your clothes instead.

In chilly weather (between forty and fifty-five degrees), the base layer that you need should be a sweat-wicking fabric such as polypropylene. The outer layer should be either a singular or dual water- and/or wind-resistant zippered shell. You can easily regulate your body heat by the use of the outer shell's zipper. Open the zipper on climbs and close it on descents. With the advancements in clothing, you can get away with carrying less.

Mistake #5 Don't think that you have buns of steel or hands of iron.

Get a comfortable saddle but be careful not to overdo it. Wide, cushy saddles might look comfortable and can be for casual, short rides that have you sitting in a more upright position but this is not the case with long rides. Overstuffed saddles can cause chafing and make your pressure points more sensitive. This can be the case if you use an overstuffed saddle and ride in a relatively low position on a standard mountain or road bike.

Some people to help stave of saddle sores use a medicated salve. At night it is better to keep your crotch area dry. Because of this, people often use baby powder instead. Sometimes, the only thing that you can do is to remind yourself that there is usually a breaking-in period for a new saddle. This usually last about a week. Try to put yourself through this breaking-in period before you head out. Above all things, change into a pair of clean underwear or cycling shorts each day. Your mother knew what she was talking about when she told you to change your underwear every day.

Padded gloves are great. Along with the use of these, you should also move your hands around on the handlebar to stave off numbness. A drop handlebar is best for a touring bicycle but a straight bar like one on a hybrid or mountain bike can also work. With a straight handlebar, you can always add on an aero-bar attachment or bar ends. The more hand positions that you have, the better the ride you will have.

Mistake #6 Do not go hog-wild on a diet kick.

You need to eat well because you are cranking. Total vegetarians can have great rides but also people who eat total garbage can also have great rides. A lot of this process is mental.

You can convince yourself that any kind regiment of food can be a help or a hindrance. Don't take up touring if you just want to do it to lose weight along. You will be just sapping yourself of energy when you really need it. Why go out on tour if your will be constantly tired because of no pep? You need plenty of carbohydrates each day but also some fat, protein, and lots of fluids.

Mistake #7 Don't think that there's one bike that fits all.

Make sure that the bicycle that you pick out fits you perfectly. women have a proportionally shorter upper body so they need a bicycle that has a shorter top tube and stem so that they can prevent from having back, neck, and shoulder problems associated with an overly long reach. An overly cushioned saddle as stated earlier is great for short rides but on a hill or in difficult terrain, the bulk of the saddle will prevent you from body English.

Mistake #8 Do not lean your bike in a turn.

Lean your body instead. Push down on the outside pedal as you coast through a turn and also push your front tire into the ground. This will help increase the cornering traction. Just like in skiing, you need to put your weight into the edges as you carve a turn.

Mistake #9 Do not be afraid to use your front brakes.

Your front brake in fact supplies the majority of your stopping power. Make sure that your weight is over the rear wheel if you are descending. One exception of the front brake rule is when you are trying to take a corner on a road with a loose surface. You need to ease up on the front brake so that the front wheel doesn't dig into the loose surface and throw you.

Mistake #10 Don't crunch your gears.

Lighten the pedal load before you start to shift. This is especially true if you start to go uphill. Do not expect that your gears will work properly when you are applying a lot of pressure to the pedals.

The best tactic for getting ready to go up hills is to downshift before you start up the hill not after you start up. Avoid cross-chain gears (largest chain ring/largest cog or smallest cog/smallest chain ring). These will laterally bend the bike's chain beyond what it is designed to take and will cause possible breakage, stress, or wear.

As you go up a hill from a dead stop, apply the rear brake lightly so that you will not roll backward and then put one pedal in the power position (between horizontal and top center). Simultaneously, release the brake and apply pressure to the pedal slowly. Don't mimic the action of a piston. This slow action will prevent you from spinning the rear wheel. Don't worry about clicking the other foot in right away or getting into a toe clip until you are well underway up the hill.


Bicyclist in Sunset


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