Okay, you’ve decided to start riding with us. (Yay!) First things first: You need a bike. There are about a zillion types of riding—mountain biking, road cycling, beach riding, BMX—but from here on out, I’ll assume you are taking up road cycling.
When Lindsay and I were looking for bikes, the first thing we did was decide what type of road cycling we would be doing. Since our main goal was to ride cross-country, we looked for a bike designed for long rides. When we heard Giant was debuting a women’s specific line (called Giant for Women), we were intrigued. After much research (and several calls and e-mails to our friends Eric and Tiffany at Giant), we settled on the Avail Advanced 2, a lightweight performance bike with a comfortable geometry designed for riding a lot of miles a week. (Size XS for me, who is 5’2″; size M for Lindsay, who is 5’6″.) Be prepared to spend around $2-3,000 on a new bike. If that is out of your price range, there are a few alternatives. First, find the bike you want. Then watch the internet, e-Bay and Craig’s List for the same bike at a great discount.
Next, we chose pedals (Shimano 105 SPDSL), shoes (Shimano WR40), a saddle (Specialized Jett women’s 155 mm saddle) and a helmet (Specialized Decibel Helmet, size small). For help with each, we consulted an expert at our local bike shop. In my case, that shop is Cynergy Cycles in Santa Monica, and my bike tech (and local coach extraordinaire) is Ron Peterson. Ron also fit me for my bike, but we will get to fittings in our next post. Finding a great shop with knowledgeable techs is key. Find someone you are comfortable talking to and ask him/her questions. Lots of them.
Next, it’s a good idea to purchase a saddle bag and fill it with everything you will need for a long ride (and a tire change). Here is what is in mine (besides $20 and a spare ID) … a Microflate Nano mini co2 tire inflator, CO2 cartridges, tire levers, a spare tube, a multi-tool and sunscreen.
Also, a few extras to consider purchasing: a headlight, rear light and reflectors if you plan to ride at night (or at dusk!); an odometer/speedometer computer and a water bottle cage.
Once you are all geared up, it’s time to get fitted for your bike. Then, we hit the road.