So you’ve signed up to ride in Bike to the Beach? AWESOME!
Seriously, you’ve signed up to raise money for an outstanding cause, and you’re going to do it riding the raddest century ride ever conceived! This ride is incredible, but can be a little daunting, especially if you aren’t sure what kind of bike to ride. With that in mind, I have a few tips on what to look for when you’re on the hunt for your Bike to the Beach Road Machine!
Find the right bike for the ride.
Bikes are awesome because they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some have fat tires, some have narrow tires, some have flat handlebars, and some have drop-down handle bars. There are bikes that are even made for snow and ice, or riding across the country. With all of these choices, buying a bike can look awfully complicated. But that’s where we come in to help.
For Bike to the Beach, you should be on the lookout for a bike that is designed for efficient riding on pavement. 60-100+ miles is a long way to go, and you definitely want to get the most out of each pedal stroke. The two types of bikes that will work best for B2B are called a “Road bike” or a “road hybrid”. Here’s what sets these two bikes apart from the rest for a ride like B2B:
- Narrow tires: tires on a road bike or a road hybrid are usually between 23mm and 28mm wide. That’s plenty of rubber for balance and grip, but not so much that it creates a lot of rolling resistance.
- No suspension: Lots of folks like to ride mountain bikes on the pavement, but on a big ride like B2B, the best bikes are ones without any suspension in the frame. For a century ride, the suspension just acts like a sponge, soaking up energy that could have been moving you forward.
- Multiple hand positions: A long ride can be tough on your hands and wrists too! A road bike’s drop-down handle bars allow for many different hand positions, meaning that you have options if you need to change things up. For road hybrids, look for a model with bar ends that extend from the ends of the handlebars, to give you that second or third option. If you already have a bike with flat handlebars, you can add bar ends pretty easily – ask about them at Spokes, or any other bike shop!
Find a bike that fits!
Even the right kind of bike can be wrong if it does not fit you correctly. Fit is so important, both for your own comfort on the bike and for you to have your best day riding Bike to the Beach! Proper fit allows you to maximize your pedal power, minimize discomfort over long distances, and arrive in Dewey pain free and ready to enjoy the Beach Party!
Okay – so how does one make sure they have the proper fit? Check for proper leg extension when you pedal: When the pedals are at their lowest position (i.e. the 6 O’clock position when you face the crank), your knee should be almost straight, but not quite. There should be just a slight bend in the knee. If there isn’t, you might just need to raise the seat, but it is a good sign that you may need to check the frame size for the correct fit.
Check your arms for a comfortable reach: Hop on your bike and put your hands on the handlebars. Now look at your elbows. Are they locked out – completely straight? Is it uncomfortable to ride for more than a few miles with your elbows bent? Do you get pain in your upper back, between your shoulder blades? These are all signs of proper or improper “reach”. The reach is how far you have to go to put your hands on the handlebars. Too short a reach can make you hunch your back, and cause pain in your lower back and difficulty taking a full breath. Too long of a reach, and you will find the bike to be hard to steer and jarring to ride, as well as pain in your shoulders and upper back.
A comfortable reach allows for a slight bend in the elbow, and a 40 to 45 degree angle at the hips. You should be leaning forward a bit, and feel relaxed in your elbows, shoulders and wrists. That bend in the elbow is especially important – it acts as your suspension and makes sure that road vibrations don’t travel up your arms and into your back and shoulders!
Not sure if you fit your current bike?
You can always enlist an expert bike fitters to take a look at your ride and your ride position. A few small adjustments can make a VERY big difference over time on a long ride like Bike to the Beach and on the rest of your weekend after spending a day in the saddle. As you become a more experienced rider you may want to choose a more aggressive position. We highly recommend you get your bike fitted at least once every other year, and once you’ve been riding the bike for a while let your fitter know if you experience any pains or soreness after your longer rides.
Bikes, like riders come in all shapes and sizes. These are just some suggestions to make sure you find a good bike for your Bike to the Beach ride this year. If you want a little more guidance, I’d love to invite you to come visit us at one of our stores. We have a great selection of Trek and Specialized bicycles that would be perfect for your B2B ride, and all the accessories you might need along the way. We’ve set up many a century rider, and our knowledgeable, friendly, no-pressure salespeople are more than able to help you find the right bike and the best fitting bike for your Bike to the Beach.
Plus, Bike to the Beach riders get 5% off all bike purchases, and 10% off all accessory purchases at Spokes. Just mention that you’ll be riding Bike to the Beach! It’s just a few months away, and training rides are happening almost every weekend. The sooner you have your B2B machine set up and ready to go, the sooner you can get out and start training!
We’re looking forward to riding and supporting you on your Bike to the Beach adventure, so don’t delay. Come visit us at Spokes, etc. today!