Everywhere Edge

Ask the Expert: Getting comfortable on a road bike

September 14, 2007

Q: I like the idea of road biking because I'm a pretty sissy mountain biker BUT, the cars and the loose gravel make me really nervous. Any suggestions on how to get past these fears or how to 'try out' road biking without investing in expensive equipment?  – Sage, CO

Julie Huck:
There are several things you can do to give yourself more confidence in road biking:
Give your local rail trails a try. These former railway corridors that have been converted to trails are great places to build your confidence and ability. Trail Link has a listing of many off-road trails available around the U.S.

Check in with your local bike organizations (shops, clubs, advocacy groups) as they frequently offer resources tailored to new riders such as urban cycling courses and organized rides. These are also great ways to meet new riders and learn more about the sport. Here are a couple links to find clubs in your area: www.adventurecycling.org (search for club) or www.bikeleague.org.

Swapping out your tires for a wider tire can also increase your stability, especially in loose gravel. A couple of nice options are Continental's TopContact and Vittoria's Randonneur - a 32 or 35c width is good. But before you make the investment, make sure you have enough clearance on your fork.

Road biking can be done on any type of bicycle, but the most important consideration is to ride a bike you are comfortable with. Your local bike shop can help you make any minor adjustments to your current bike to improve your riding experience.