The Bike-n-Hike, where I spend much too much money.
When I started biking, I hadn't been on a bike in more than 35 years. Back in that day, I rode a simple bike, no gears, you braked by pushing the pedals backwards, and you pumped up your bike tires with the small air compressor your dad kept in the back of the garage. At least, that's how I did it. I don't remember biking with a basket, or doing anything more than biking around the neighborhood with my friends.
Boy, have things changed. The first time I rode my bike, I ended up with a flat tire. Here in Colorado, as in most places of high desert, there is a noxious weed called a goat head. In the late summer and early fall, the goat head goes to seed. The seeds of the goat head might as well be made of iron. They are pea-sized, and shaped, not surprisingly, like a goat head, with the "nose" and "horns" being a sever, very sharp point. Sharp enough to stab you. Sharp enough to stab a bike tire. One goat head in a tire is enough to leave you stranded. You see it, you pull it out, and hear the tell-tale pffft of air being lost.
Those spikes are no more than 1/4 inch long, some much smaller. But it's enough. That first goat head cost me $20 for a new goat-head-resistant inner-tube. A week later, I did it again, this time getting one in the back tire. How frustrating! I hadn't even gotten to ride the bike three times, and here I was, flat. This time in addition to the goat-head-resistant inner-tube, I also paid an extra $20 for a liner to go inside my tire. It fits between the tire and the tube, and can thwart most small pointy objects, including goat heads.
I haven't had a flat since. I have pulled out several from my tires since getting the liners, but no pffft and no flat tire. Thank goodness.
And it turns out I need to put air in my tires at least once a week or so. I don't have a decent tire pump, so it means I take a little ride up to the Bike-n-Hike, the shop where I bought my bike (and where I've had to have my repairs made) and let them air them up. If you are riding or not riding, you should air up at least once a week. Yes, a hand pump is on my list of things to get.
Other things I've learned:
- Leaves are fine to drive over, although if they are wet they can be slippery.
- Sticks are a problem, if they are pencil-size or bigger.
- Small gravel (almost sand-like) is great to drive through, almost as good as pavement
- Shift gears while in motion, not when sitting still. Anticipate shifting down before you need to be down-shifted, like when approaching a hill.
- Warn people when you are passing them on a trail, and try to pass on the left whenever possible. "On your left" said in a loud voice is sufficient
- Little bumps feel like big bumps on a bike. Watch for manhole covers, water access plates, raised bits of concrete, etc.
- Taking your hand off the handlebars to signal a turn is an advanced skill. Newbies still need both hands just to keep from falling off the bike.
- Keep your hand off the left-hand brake lever until you are almost at a stop. The left lever controls the front brakes, which are much too "brake-y" when you're just trying to slow down.