I started cycling four years ago now as a fresh faced 18 year old having no idea what I was getting into and just how weird cycling can seem when you first get going. So I took a bit of a look back at the five things I just didn't understand when I started riding...
Cleats aren't so evil
When you first take up road cycling and head down to the shop to get a new bike it's almost guaranteed the shop assistant will try and sell you some cleats and pedals so that you're clipped into the bike. To begin with you'e rightly skeptical of being attached to a bike surrounded by cars in the city but they're so much more efficient for riding and really help you pedal efficiently so you're not wasting any energy. When I first got cleats I was a little bit too cocky and decided to cycle away from the shop with mine before duly falling sideways into a ditch when I realised I was clipped in and didn't have time to get a foot down. You will fall off sideways the first time you use them but cleats really do improve your ride.
Going commando is okay
The one thing I never realised when I bought my road bike was that padded shorts existed so you can only imagine how relieved I was when someone bought me a pair to wear. The only thing was, I still thought you had to wear them with boxers / pants as lycra felt so naked. As it turns out it's actually much better not to wear anything under your shorts as they're rather comfy and probably not as warm. Although if going commando feels weird the first time just wait until you're slapping on the chamois cream on your intimate bits to sooth your time in the saddle.
Leg Shaving is almost the expectation
As a cyclist it is absolutely, 100% acceptable to shave your legs as a male cyclist. This one really caught me out when I started riding; in my mind why on earth would I want to shave my legs? Surely that was just something girls did? Well, I was wrong. Guys loving chatting about the best way to shave their pins to make sure they're as silky smooth as possible. Honestly, I've been involved in conversations that range from how far up you should shave to whether hair removal cream is better than a razor.
There are loads of reasons for shaving your legs. Some people will tell you it's to make things more aero-dynamic whereas others will tell you it's to make cleaning up your leg in the event of a crash much easier. All I know is that eventually nearly ever road cyclist succumbs to the razor and smooths their legs.
Strava exists and ends all other conversation
So you've mastered cleats, slapped on your chamois cream and gone commando to your first club ride. Everyone there is really welcoming and you set off in a little group in hunt of a cafe. The conversation starts flowing and someone asks if you have any QOM's whilst the guy on the front suddenly sprints off to a mixture of cheers and jeers. This is probably your introduction into the slippery addiction of Strava. Using the app you record all your rides and compete on segments against total strangers. It's some seriously addictive fun and before you know it you'll own a Garmin and be cursing Mrs Smith for having all the QOM's on your street. She's evil. You will beat her.
Type 2 Fun
You'll finish your first club run or solo ride and feel absolutely battered, crawling into the kitchen to devour the nearest 5,000 calories to hand and spend the next day nursing the DOMS.but you'll be itching to get back on the bike and head out for more. Yes it hurt the first time but surely it won't the second, and anyway, it was so much fun zipping down the hill with the breeze in your face.
So, what weird and wonderful things did folks discover when they started riding?