Road Cycling Tech Tips

Safety and performance are the cornerstones of road cycling. That's why it's so important to assure your bike is always in good working order. This list has been compiled to point you in the right direction when it comes to maintaining your bike.

Colin Barrett | Heber Valley, UT | Photo: Ross Downard

Road Tech Tip # 1

Look ahead and pay attention to the road! Be aware of crossroads, potholes and road hazards. Any of these things can take you down if you don’t see them. And obey traffic rules! Don’t give cyclists a bad name by running stop signs, etc.

Road Tech Tip # 2

It’s so dry out here, you have to bring plenty of water or you will bonk or cramp, or worse. The corollary to this note is that unless it’s mid-summer, you need to bring a vest. You climb some pretty big hills around here, and being sweaty on a descent can be pretty chilly.

Road Tech Tip # 3

Make sure you have the proper bike shorts and use chamois creams if necessary. Don’t skimp on your road shorts! This is one area where being thrifty can be a painful decision. A nice chamois can make a big difference!

Road Tech Tip # 4

You need to think about proper fueling on a ride. For every hour of hard riding, plan on consuming 200-300 calories (kcals) in order to not fall flat on your face when you hit that last climb home. Most energy supplements sold at Jans have plenty of electrolytes, but if you are big sweater, plan on using an electrolyte drink as well. If you are using cycling as a weight loss tool, reduce your caloric intake to 100-200 calories (kcals) per hour.

Road Tech Tip # 5

I think that the road riding here is amazing and people are very tolerant, however, your first thought when road riding should be safety. Make sure your bike is in good shape, check the tires, the brake pads, and then ALWAYS wear a helmet no matter how hot it is. Speaking of which, many of the new bike helmets have more than 20 vents, so if you are moving at all, they are cooler than no helmet because they provide both complete ventilation and shade from the sun.

Road Tech Tip # 6

For those first time riders and those just getting into cycling. Remember your hand signals from when you were a kid? If not, go ask one of the kids in the Young Riders program, they will refresh your memory. Using signals to alert drivers of your intentions is crucial to biker safety and driver tolerance. If you are a tool, you give all of us a bad name.

Road Tech Tip # 7

Make sure to invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. You have to remember that the connection between you and your saddle is the 5th, but the most important contact point between you and your bike (the others being your hands and feet.) So when you are going in to the shop to find a pair, make sure they fit you properly. You do not want them to be baggy at all. You need a nice snug fit so nothing moves around because that will cause chaffing. Also, for me, bib shorts offer a better degree of comfort because they eliminate a waist band, which can cause constriction around the mid-area of your body on a long ride.

Road Tech Tip # 8

The biggest mistake people make when finishing their rides is not adequately recovering. Even if it was just a one hour easy spin, take the time to consume a quick recovery drink, or a lean protein snack consisting of at least ¼ gram of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight. (For a 220 lbs guy that’s about 25 grams of protein, for a 110 lbs woman it’s about 12.5 grams of protein.) To help your legs recover faster and feel fresher the next ride, put on some compression socks to help promote recovery and drink a full water bottle within the first hour after riding.

Road Tech Tip # 9

Are you miserable or comfortable on your road bike? If you are uncomfortable and feel awkward on your bike, you probably need to make sure your bike is the proper size, and just as importantly is properly fit to you. Get your bike fit evaluated at Jans or at a high end specialty shop near you. This includes your shoes, pedals and cleat placement. A proper bike fit will dramatically reduce knee, hip, and back strain, and make your riding not only more comfortable, but more powerful as well.

Road Tech Tip # 10

Whenever going out on a road ride, make sure you bring cold hard cash. It will always come in handy, especially if you bonk. You will be glad that you can grab a Snickers bar at 7-11. Just as importantly, if you get a slash in your tire you can use the bill to patch your tire to get you home.

Road Tech Tip # 11

Remember to change positions on your road bike. Stand up and pedal frequently. It helps circulation and uses different muscles. It’s easy to forget and just sit in the same position for long periods of time. Stand on the hills, sprint for a few road signs – mix it up! You’ll get more out of the ride and become a better rider in the process.

Road Tech Tip # 12

Inflate your tires to the proper pressure before you leave on your ride. To get the pressure right, you will need a good floor pump. This will avoid flats! And, when riding carry a spare tube, tire levers and inflation device (mini pump or CO2), and know how to use them! Flat tires are the most common issue when road riding, so bring your phone just in case!

Road Tech Tip # 13

If you are going out at dusk, put a flasher on both the front and rear of your bike, I usually have a mini flasher from Blackburn in the back vents of my helmet, so if I get caught out late, I at least have that one to alert traffic.

Road Tech Tip # 14

New riders should attend group rides ranging from neighborhood rides with friends to shop rides to meet other riders, as much as possible. This will help with route knowledge, and it will also help the new rider to learn proper etiquette as quickly as possible.

Road Tech Tip # 15

Wear visible apparel. You want motorists to see you! Bright colors and neons work great.