Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Reading and Riding

Sometimes the best way to learn is to do, to learn by trial and error. While there is a great amount on kinesthetic learning related to cycling, why reinvent the wheel and not learn from other’s riding mistakes and what they have already learned and written about. After all, isn’t that part of the reason why you are reading this blog post?

Knowing that I was going to be gifted with a bike and would soon be cycling again, I purchased Bicycling Essential Road Bike Maintenance Handbook by Todd Downs with Brian Fiske, published in 2014, before I had even received a bike. The 166 page paperback retails for $14.99 but I picked it up with a 20% discount at Barnes & Noble. It covers more than I may ever need to know about bicycle maintenance but I still recommend it as a good reference if you intend to do any work on your own bike. It contains clear directions with accompanying photos and printed links to helpful videos.

Soon after I received my new Trek 8.3 DS I bought Bicycling Magazine’s New Cyclist Handbook edited by Ben Hewitt, published in 2005. It retails for $11.99 but like the previous book I received a 20% discount at Barnes & Noble when I bought it. Even though I really wasn’t a “new cyclist” I thought that after a thirty-some year hiatus from riding I needed to catch up or at least brush up. I didn’t read every word in this book and totally skipped the chapter for women only, but I read a lot of it. If nothing else, learning from this book that the finger numbness I had been experiencing after my first few rides was normal and nothing to worry about and easily preventable (see next post in this series), justified  the expense. The chapter on “What To Do About Saddle Sores” has also been helpful and I will write more about that in a future post.

The last book I bought and read was The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook, a Falcon Guide by Robert Hurst, published in 2013. The original price was $12.95 but I picked it up on sale for $5.93 at one of my local REI stores. It provided enough alternative and additional information to justify the sale price.

I was not planning to subscribe to a cycling specific magazine but the same good friend who gave me the bike signed me up for a year’s free trial subscription to Bicycling. By the end of that first year I was hooked and paid to renew the subscription myself. While I certainly don’t read every issue from cover to cover I find enough information within its pages to justify the subscription, even if that information is only in the advertisements.

I am not endorsing or promoting any book or magazine but if you are thinking about acquiring your first bike, trying cycling for the first time, or like me, getting back into it after a long time away from it, check out a recent book or two about cycling from your local library. Or do what I did. Visit your local bookstore and browse through all the recent various books and magazines about bikes and cycling and buy one or two. A little investment in in knowledge can save you money and discomfort down the road.

Here is the link to the first installment in this series, Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling: Starting Over.

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