Stephens pointed out all the features as he described them and talked prices while acknowledging that not everyone can afford to get the best thing right away, no matter how passionate we are about the idea. Some of us may have to find a cheaper bicycle, then see where it goes from there. He said that the important thing is that you get out and start cycling.
“The beauty of it is that you can go and find, depending upon how many miles you are going to ride, some people live within a couple of miles of their job, you can get a very cheap ‘yard sale bike’ and start commuting. You don’t have to spend $500 to get going,” Stephens said. “When you become more dedicated to the process and are commuting on the not-so-good days, like while it’s raining, then you would want to get rain gear and other stuff and you may want a new bike.”
Adam Carrico, manager at Ride N Slide Sports, also gave me a close look at two great commuter-friendly bicycles.
“There is a bike, a hybrid, that is going to suit your needs, more specifically to commuting. A fully rigid frame, which means that it’s going to be really light and you aren’t going to have any bobbing before you go forward. It’s a more responsive bike. It makes it more efficient.”
He also recommended the comfort bike for it’s design which makes cycling more enjoyable.
“The name comfort bike means that you are going to have a little bit of suspension up front for comfort, an upright posture, a big, wide seat and a suspension seatpost,” Carrico said. “There isn’t another bike that’s even close to how comfortable these are.”
Owner of Free Spirit Adventures and an avid cyclist for over 20 years, Alinda Perrine took me through her suggestions for the beginner with aspirations of commuting.
“The first thing that I would do to get started is that I would take them, probably, to the Greenbrier River Trail, where there is no traffic so they can start building their confidence and getting their technique back. You do need to have a little more technique, when you ride the road, than when you are just riding around your neighborhood,” Perrine said.
“Step two is, we would go to a road where there is less traffic and I would teach them the rules of the road, how to signal, how to slow down, how to stop at a stop sign. I would go through all of the techniques of how to ride on the road and the proper etiquette.”
Perrine also described a common problem with beginner cyclists, commuters specifically. Many bicycle riders think of themselves as a “person” on the road when they are actually on a vehicle, which has the same rights, she said, as any other vehicle.
“We would learn to climb a mountain or a hill on the bike because that is where bicycles go the slowest and that is where cars don’t necessarily see you because they are coming around a turn. Many people feel that they are holding people back and there is a little rule of the road that says ‘hold your line.’ If a car thinks you are going to move off to the right and go off of the road, the car goes ahead and takes the road. Well, maybe you can’t get off the road. Always try to stay in that 3 feet off of the line area, don’t show a car that you are trying to get off the road, because often you can’t. It would be a process, before somebody is ready to go out and ride the road.”
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When you go to a shop or your local big box retail chain to look at bicycles, you may feel overwhelmed, but the best thing to do is ask questions. Tell the store attendant or bicycle shop owner what you plan to do on the bicycle and how comfortable you are with the mechanics of it all. I found that you will get more knowledgeable help at a local bike shop than at a large retailer. It also helps before you go shopping to make yourself more familiar with all of the options available now that may not have existed the last time you shopped for bicycles. Take the time to test ride all of the bicycles and find what fits your needs.
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