Maybe it’s for the exercise. Maybe it’s for the commute. Maybe it’s because the lady in 3A organizes one of those weekend group rides and let’s be honest, you don’t know how to say “No” to the lady in 3A.
Whatever your motivation, getting serious about cycling is not — ironically — as easy as riding a bike.
It takes finesse, mindfulness and dedication.
And not being a Fred.
“Fred” is a term that encompasses all the traits you should strive to avoid as an upstart cyclist. Think poseur: a cyclist who fails to embody the above-mentioned qualities. The anti-Fred shares the road with other cyclists and cars, properly maintains their equipment and, yes, conforms to the (unwritten and tyrannically insisted-upon) rules of the Velominati.
So, if you’re gonna get serious, follow these no-Fred rules:
It all begins here. And it's where beginners can automatically turn into Freds. From wonky stem set-ups to slanted saddles and handlebars, what feels comfortable to you doesn't always matter. Sure, a proper and professionally administered fit is one thing. But nothing looks more aero (and hence pro) than a slammed stem. And while we can't all ride the same bike as 2015 UCI World Champion Peter Sagan, we should all definitely strive toward getting whatever we're riding as close as possible.
Need some bike ideas? We have a few.
While you don't need to match the peacock standard set by Mario Cipollini, there's no reason not to cultivate some style. Flashy colors and patterns — once the domain of pros alone (see: Greg LeMond) — have become really popular of late with the Weekend Warrior set.
Bright colors have a purpose: they improve your visibility to drivers on the road — and, yes, to everyone else as well. And while wearing the kit of your favorite pro team is something you can indulge in, you should never wear the maillot jaune (or any other best-in-category jersey) unless you yourself have won the race in question. For that would truly be a Fred-ly thing to do.
Shave (Or Not)
To shave or not to shave? A question many cyclists have pondered. Shaving your legs as a cyclist is one of the greatest signifiers of your dedication. It’s really a matter of preference, though. Hairy legs may be one of the surest signs of a neophyte, but there's something to be said for the hirsute strongman who powers his way past a group of bare-legged snobs, casting their opinions to the wind as it gusts through his calf fuzz.
Follow the Rules of the Road
With great speed comes responsibility. Not only do you have to watch out for cars and pedestrians, but other cyclists as well. This means reasonably following the rules of the road — and the bike lane. Mashing through traffic might look cool, but it's an incredibly annoying and tactless thing to do (here's looking at you, stereotypical fixie bro). And you might want to rethink those earbuds. There's also an established lexicon of hand signals in which every cyclist should be conversant, regardless of whether you're commuting to work or on a group ride with strangers.
Do this, and your inner Fred will meet his salvation.
—Michael C. Brown