Basic Skills for Cyclists
There are many little problems involved in using a bicycle that can defeat the enthusiasm of a new cyclist. For this reason, I will be using this directory to explain how to cope with some of these difficulties. I am not a bicycle repairman, someone with vast technical skills, or even an internet expert, but I have had to solve many bicycling problems myself over the years, and therefore I will add to the articles in this directory from time to time as I think of new and helpful topics and as I find the time to write (I am already trying to do too much). Please note that the skills directly related to bicycle touring will go into that directory and not here, although some of those skills, such as map reading and weather predicting, would be useful to any cyclist.
My favorite Monty Python skit is one called "Bicycle Repairman." In the skit, we see superman walking down the street in his splendid costume. Then he stops to catch a bus, but surprizingly, the bus driver is a superman too, in an identical costume. Then, when he turns to walk back to his seat, we discover everyone else on the bus is a superman too. We go on into town, and there we find that every person in every store is a superman. Then we see a superman riding his bicycle, but it begins to wobble badly, and then he crashes. The bicycle needs repaired, but superman doesn't know how. Then the call goes out for Bicycle Repairman. Everywhere, supermen are frantically searching for the hero. In a crowded laundromat, a group of supermen are waiting for their costumes to wash, when another superman announces the emergency. One of the supermen looks around to see if anyone is watching him, and then he disappears into a dark recess, where he turns into Bicycle Repairman, with his brown coveralls and tool chest. All the supermen are excited to see him, and he goes and repairs the bicycle. The message of the skit is, of course, that all of us can play an important role; we don't have to be superman. We can play some other essential role, such as Bicycle Repairman instead! Think about it! If you and a group of friends are unable to proceed on your bike ride due to a flat tire, do you really want some superman to rescue you with his pickup, ending the trip, or do you want to be the hero and to fix the tire yourself, so you can continue on your ride? The ability to solve your own problems is very, very powerful. It gives you freedom to do whatever you want.
There's a tendency to feel that some people are masters while others are natural klutzes. However, even the very most skillful person had to start learning at one time. In acquiring skills, two essential ingredients are necessary: knowledge and practice. I can't help with the practice, that you have to do yourself, but I can attempt to convey my knowledge and understanding of these little problems. You can improve your own opportunities to learn by becoming a careful observer. Good luck with advancing your skills!
Articles in the Skills Directory
Repairs and Maintenance on Your Bike When traveling by bicycle, the ability to make repairs on the road can be crucial to the success of the trip.
How to Fix a Flat The most simple and basic of all repair problems but perhaps the one that occurs most often. Everyone that rides a bicycle needs this skill.
How to True a Wobbly Wheel Cyclists suffer from broken spokes, wobbly wheels, and expensive bike shop bills from not understanding how very simple wheel-truing is.
The Seven Most Common Mistakes Made by Newbie Cyclists Those just beginning to bicycle as adults and those who bicycle rarely tend to make the same obvious, self-defeating, and often dangerous mistakes. What they are and how to avoid them.
How to Climb a Hill on a Bicycle While it takes a certain amount of energy to climb a hill, using the proper technique can reduce the energy and increase the average speed.
How to Descend a Hill on a Bicycle It's not dangerous to make quick downhill runs as long as you understand how to do it.