Leveling Out the Learning Curve

Bianchi 2012 Via NironeThinking about getting into cycling? Or maybe you’ve been riding but Kevin Mulhall inspired you to give group riding a try?

Whatever brought you to cycling, welcome! We at Higher Gear are happy to share the roads and our knowledge with you.

As Kevin pointed out, road cycling has a steep learning curve. To give you a head start, we’re sharing this article on Bicycling.com by Alex Stieda that we just came across. Stieda shares five common errors that new cyclists make and how to avoid them.


Nobody’s Perfect

Avoid these five new-cyclist mistakes
By Alex Stieda


As a neo-pro in 1986, I’d already been racing for nine years as an amateur. I thought I was pretty hot stuff, going to Europe to race. Knowing that I couldn’t climb well, I made up my own strategy: Fade to the back on the ascents, then bomb the descents to get back to the front. I was having a blast until one of the old-time pros asked my teammate Bob Roll in Italian—back then most racers didn’t speak English—to tell me to settle down or I’d find myself at the bottom of a ravine. I realized that I still had a lot to learn. Here are five of the most frequent mistakes new riders make and how to correct them.


Buying the Most Expensive Gear

Fancy parts don’t make you a better rider. What matters is how well you take care of your gear—and that you actually use it. The best-looking bike has a clean chain and bar tape, but a well-worn saddle and brake hoods.

Starting Out Too Hard

It’s fun to ride fast, but it’s not fun to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Use the first third of a ride to warm up, the next third to settle into a rhythm and the final third to hammer. This strategy prevents mid-ride burnout and trains you to push hard when you’re already fatigued.

Clif Products shot bloks bars luna zbar mojo builders shot roksNot Refueling Enough

Eat before you get hungry and drink before you get thirsty. For rides lasting more than one hour, take some sips from your bottle every 10 minutes and eat a few small bites of food every 15 minutes. Finish one bottle and eat one energy bar per hour.

Acting Like a Know-It-All

New riders can be overconfident, especially if they’ve enjoyed success in another athletic discipline. Cycling is a complicated sport, and you’ll progress faster once you realize that every ride offers an opportunity to improve. When you reach the point where you can help others, offer a single piece of advice at a time so they can focus on improving one skill before building to the next one.

Breaking the Group-Ride Rules

There’s a protocol to riding safely in a group, but new riders often don’t master the system until they get yelled at. If you’re new to pack riding, hang out at the back and watch what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help.




Our spring group rides – beginning with our First Ride of Spring this Saturday, April 6th – are a great time to learn about the principles of group riding and put them into practice.

Ladies, our second annual Women’s Cycling Clinic on May 5th is designed to have you riding safely and with more confidence.

Need Help? Have Questions?

Highland Park | 847-433-2453
Wilmette | 847-256-2330

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