Are you looking to get into riding a bike, but don’t know where to start? I recently transitioned from my trusty— and also rusty—beach cruiser, which could really only get me around my lovely town of Ocean Beach, to a road bike, which can take you much, much further. I work for a communications company built on bicycling, so I thought it may be a good thing to do.
While riding my beach cruiser to work was simple enough, there were so many fun events and places I couldn’t make it to because my bike just wasn’t built for the distance. Around this time, Mixte’s third anniversary rolled around and in celebration of the milestone, our fearless leader — Jamie Hampton — gifted us with $300 and a day off to go do an adventure of our choosing.
I quickly decided to purchase a new bike and go on an adventure. Bike the Bay, a ride hosted by the San Diego County Bike Coalition, presented itself, and I had my mind made up.
Step one: Finding a bike
First, I did what any normal person living in the 21st century would do – I went online. Namely craigslist. While I wanted a nice bike, I knew I wanted a used bike because I didn’t have $2,000 to spend.
Quickly I realized that I know nothing about road bikes. I decided to go into a used bike shop that Jamie recommended to try some out — Ye Old Bike Shop. The first thing they asked me at the shop was,” What size?” This led me to my next step.
Step two: Getting sized
Next, I went to a local bike shop — Performance Bikes — that could help me figure out what size bike I needed. Performance has every type of bike for me to test out the different sizes of bikes and types, including road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids – even mixtes.
Step Three: Pick a style
I was a little weary about going “full road bike”. The skinny tires, curved handle bars and hunched over riding position all felt very foreign to me. After testing out every bike Performance could lend me, I found my inner reassurance and told myself that I would get used to this new style of riding. Simply because this bike could take me much further than a mountain bike or hybrid and I wouldn’t have to miss anymore fun parties or events because of my trusty, rusty, heavy and slow cruiser, I decided to go for it.
Step Four: Buy one!
By now, I knew my size and I was ready to splurge with my $300. I went back to good old Craigslist and started searching for what I knew I liked. I found a handful of great bikes, but suddenly felt anxiety about buying a bike from Craigslist.
I found myself back at Ye Old Bike Shop with my new-found knowledge — still very limited but a good start — and looked at the bikes with new eyes. I test rode all the bikes in my size and finally narrowed it down to the single bike I wanted. Big red and I would quickly become friends.
Step Five: Training
Oh right, now I had a ride to train for. Bike the Bay is a 25 mile ride that starts in downtown San Diego and goes over the Coronado Bay Bridge and through five cities – San Diego, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City and Chula Vista. Most of the ride is flat with the one grand exception that was also the highlight – the bridge itself.
And so I began with a nice ride out to Sunset Cliffs where I could practice on some good inclines and hills.
Next, I stepped it up to 14-mile rides with a steady incline up Catalina St. all the way to the Point Loma lighthouse. This was pretty challenging and taught me a few key things: utilize your gears and don’t over work yourself in the beginning. It’s best to keep a steady pace instead when you know you’re in for some hills.
Step Six: Let’s ride
The big day had come — Bike the Bay. Thankfully, it was one of those lovely days where the sky remains overcast and cloudy until 1 p.m. and then, as San Diego does, resumes being sunny and perfect. This kept me cool for the ride, which I felt thankful for. While the Coronado Bridge was definitely a challenge, I felt ready and, much to my surprise, was actually passing people on my way. What!?
25 miles is the furthest I have biked at one time — so finished this ride left me incredibly happy and incredibly sore. Luckily at the finish line came with beers and friends. I highly recommend this combination.
• Get sized
• Think about what type of riding you want to do and where
• Weigh the pros and cons of the place you buy a bike from
• Challenge yourself
• Get good tires
• Get a good seat
• Get bike shorts (padding? Yes, ladies!)
• Ride with friends
Oh, and have fun. Always enjoy it, or else, what’s the point?