How do you ride a "racing" bicycle?

Brand X

Guest
I rode my first bike when I was 5 years old, and I've used bikes on and off ever since for short distances, usually less than a 3 mile round trip, never more than about 30 if I was feeling particularly adventurous and at an average speed of overtaken-by-little-old-ladies. But I thought maybe it's time I bought myself a half-decent bike to give myself some motivation to get out there more, so I have just purchased a 2014 Boardman Sport hybrid; not the most expensive bike in the World and with a 15% weekend-special discount it cost me under £330 (that's $500 in foreign money) but it's rated highly and a more expensive, lightweight version isn't going to make any difference at my level of riding.

The question is... now that I've bought it, how do I ride it?

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To most people who aren't seriously into cycling, there are four basic types of bicycle:
• Mountain bike (sic)
• BMX
• Racing bike
• Normal bike

The bikes I have mainly ridden are comfort-hybrid bikes - ie, normal bikes with fairly high handlebars. The Boardman is a hybrid, but it is not a comfort-hybrid, it's closer to a flat-bar road bike, and I really don't know how to ride it yet. All I know how to ride are "normal" bikes.

I did try a drop-handlebar tourer once, but it was probably too big for me and I am of the firm opinion that the brake levers are in the wrong place; it is not humanly possible to squeeze the brake levers without either (a) contorting your wrists to a strange angle and trying to press the levers without the aid of your thumbs, or (b) letting go of the handlebars. What I think of this design I shall refrain from typing due to forum rules restrictions.

So, that's why I went for the hybrid. If I can't learn how to ride it then I've made a poor choice and I would have been better off buying a comfort-hybrid, in which case I'll fit a different stem or maybe sell up.

I have asked at about five or six different bike shops over the years about how to ride a "racing style" bike, the response I got in Halfords (large chain store) was like:

Staff guy: "oh, they're fantastic"
Me: "Yes, I've seen a lot of people on road bikes around.."
Staff guy starts talking about his bike and his favorite routes..
Me: "umm.. yeah, but how do you ride them?"
Staff guy: "ummmmm.....err .....ummmmm"

And my local friendly independent bike store....
Staff guy: "oh, they're fantastic"
Me: "Yes, I've seen a lot of.."
Staff guy starts talking about his bike and his favorite routes.. deja-vu...
Me: "umm.. yes that's nice, but how do you ride them?"
Staff guy: "ummmmm.....err .....ummmmm"

And then my local small bike chain..
Staff guy: "oh, they're fantastic"
Me: "Yes, they do seem to be very popular, but.."
Staff guy starts talking about his bike, favorite routes, his other bike and how much do I want to spend..
Me: "umm.. yeah, but how do you ride them?"
Staff guy: "ummmmm.....err .....ummmmm"

I am beginning to see a pattern here. No one seems to be able to explain how the hell you ride those things.
Does anyone know? It's just like when I challenge people to explain how they know how to park their cars in a tight spot when they cannot see the front or rear of their own vehicle. It's like trying to ask a squirrel how it knows where it's nuts are. It's a mystery.

I'm just about barely comfortable on my old Marin Kentfield, which is significantly more upright than the Boardman; even from riding the Boardman home which was less than a mile I can feel an ache in the small of my back (time for an ibuprofen) so when the weather improves (blowing a gale out there at the moment) I'll have to look at playing with the seat height and position. But I doubt that alone is going to be enough. I need to learn how to ride.
 

MontyVeda

a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
ummmmm.....err .....ummmmm
 

screenman

Legendary Member
You ride them the same as you ride any bike, hold onto the handlebars and pedal.

Now if you have aches and pains, are you carrying any excess, do you have a daily stretching regime, how fit are you, can you easily touch your toes. Have you ridden a bike often enough for it to be come comfortable, bit like those shoes that feel great now but maybe not when you first wore them.

Does the bike fit you?

Now lets have some answers to that lot and we will know where to start.
 

MikeW-71

Veteran
Location
Carlisle
I'm not sure I understand the question...

Riding it (or indeed a "racer") is exactly the same as any bike. Get the saddle height and position correct and then it's just changing gears to suit effort level as you go. The only thing that will be different is that you're in a different position from the other bikes.

You need to expand on your question a bit, do you want to know how to ride further? Faster?
 

screenman

Legendary Member
that'll be a no and a no from me... is stretching really necessary for riding a bike?
No but it helps get rid of aches and pains if you have them, sometimes. It is also very beneficial in prolonging joint health etc. So I was told many times.

A lot of lower back pain comes from tight ham strings, which can often be easily sorted.

Your choice Monty, you have not come on here asking for advice.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
I'm just about barely comfortable on my old Marin Kentfield, which is significantly more upright than the Boardman; even from riding the Boardman home which was less than a mile I can feel an ache in the small of my back (time for an ibuprofen) so when the weather improves (blowing a gale out there at the moment) I'll have to look at playing with the seat height and position. But I doubt that alone is going to be enough. I need to learn how to ride.
If I wanted to learn how to ride racing-style, I'd find the nearest British Cycling "go ride" training and ask. I'm not sure you'll get far with them without non-flat handlebars - if not drops, then at least origin8 drop-ends, but then you can't brake from the drops, which seems bad for pack-riding. It's much easier to add braking capability to the tops of drop bars by adding interrupter levers - did no-one mention those to you? Also, I don't squeeze any brakes with my thumbs (the shifters on some brakes are thumb-operated, though) and I often let go of the bars (signalling, changing position, ...) - how does anyone do otherwise?

I think riding a bike with drops isn't wildly different from riding one with another shape of handlebars: put the bars in the right place and move your hands around them. It sounds worryingly like your bike might not fit you, or at least the positions are a bit wrong for you for now.

Sorry to be a downer. I'm not a fan of everyone trying to race and when I was learning to use drop handlebars, I ended up in a field next to the road at least once, so I'm probably not the best source of advice!
 
OP
Brand X

Brand X

Guest
You ride them the same as you ride any bike, hold onto the handlebars and pedal.

Now if you have aches and pains, are you carrying any excess, do you have a daily stretching regime, how fit are you, can you easily touch your toes. Have you ridden a bike often enough for it to be come comfortable, bit like those shoes that feel great now but maybe not when you first wore them.

Does the bike fit you?

Now lets have some answers to that lot and we will know where to start.
"Does the bike fit you?"

Good question. I think it does, I went for the size large frame (54cm) rather than medium (49") because the medium felt a little cramped. I'd say I'm suited to a 19" frame on some hybrid bikes - my inseam length is roughly 30". The reach-over is okay I guess, it could do with being a little closer perhaps, but I haven't taken the bike out for a real ride yet. I'm in-between sizes. Extra-medium.

Fitness level... err.. does watching TV count? In the warm weather months I try to get out for a couple of hours riding on the weekend but in comparison to real cyclists.. no, not fit. A 30-mile round trip with a couple of stops is my comfortable limit. I can touch my toes okay, I stretch sometimes, but not what you'd call real exercise. That's why I need to get out on the bike.
 

jack smith

Über Member
Location
Durham
Thats not a race bike :bicycle: But its just the same as riding any other bike? Sorry i dont umderstand the question if you know how to ride a bike whats the difference between bikes?
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Slowly :biggrin:

The bike you have, on roads, towpaths & paths in parks (always remembering you should ride carefully and considerately and give way to pedestrians), probably not though forests, on beaches or fields

And never on the pavement unless it's shared use (again heeding pedestrians)
 

screenman

Legendary Member
I suppose it is a bit like somebody who does not like marmalade saying to somebody who does, how do you eat that stuff. Not that you can spread a bike on toast, so maybe it is not a good comparison.
 
OP
Brand X

Brand X

Guest
I'm not sure I understand the question...

Riding it (or indeed a "racer") is exactly the same as any bike. Get the saddle height and position correct and then it's just changing gears to suit effort level as you go. The only thing that will be different is that you're in a different position from the other bikes.

You need to expand on your question a bit, do you want to know how to ride further? Faster?
I think my biggest problem is leaning over more; riding near-upright is easy, but being in a bent over position is unnatural and I'm either taking the weight of my body in my spine or on my wrists & forearms. At the moment it's not about further or faster, I have to learn how to sit on the bike without doing myself an injury.
 

Saluki

I've run away with my friends to..
Location
...New Tealandia
If you have been riding bikes since you were 5 you know how to steer and pedal. Just do the same thing with your new Boardman and you'll be fine. There is no difference in technique as far as I know.
If you've not ridden for a while, call the council and see if there is a cyclecraft course in your area to give you a bit of confidence before hitting the trails.
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
Sounds to me that your saddle is already too low, try sitting on the bike against a wall (that you can lean on) then place yor heel on the pedal, if your leg is not straight then the saddle is too low.
Also note if your handlebars feel too low then change em to riser bars, dead easy to do and should cost less than £25 to do.
 
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