We all tick off these established comings-of-age eventually...
1. Getting your first road bike
Up until this point, you may have been riding a hybrid or mountain bike.
The injection of free speed is immense. It takes you a month or so to realise that you don’t need to ride on the drops all the time.
2. Riding clipless pedals
Don’t be like the rider who skidded into a local bike shop, complaining his new ‘cycling shoes’ were slippery, as would be the case when wearing carbon soles with no cleats fitted…
3. Crashing because you forgot to clip out
Usually at traffic lights, in front of a congregation of amused onlookers.
4. Fixing your first roadside mechanical
It could be as simple as a puncture – but if you’ve not learned how to sort it out yet, that’s far from a breeze when you find yourself 25-miles from home.
Other popular early mechanicals include dropping a chain, experiencing your first sticky chain link, or popping a spoke.
5. Joining a club run
As well as magic fingers that can snap a tyre onto a rim in seconds, you’ll (hopefully) discover cycling club mates who can teach you the ropes of riding etiquette, help you agonise over equipment choices, and become life long friends.
6. Riding a 50-mile sportive
Reaching a goal is easier with a target – and signing up to an event is an excellent way to focus your attentions. You’ll enjoy feed stops, mechanical support (may be useful if number four is still an issue) and way-marking.
7. Riding until you’re completely lost
On purpose, by mistake – it doesn’t really matter as long as there’s a cake stop somewhere along the way, you’ve got no deadline, and have enough thoughts in your head to amuse yourself for several hours.
If you’ve got a deadline to be home by, prepare for stressful navigation ahead.
8. Riding a 100-mile sportive
With 50 miles out the way, the goalposts have moved – now you want to ride a century. The trick to riding 100 miles in comfort? Eat, and take it steady.
9. Experiencing your first bonk
The result of not following the advice above…
10. Buying the ‘second bike’
It’s a slippery slope from here.
I’ve heard claims that if you buy it in the same colour as your other one, any party with a shared interest in the contents of your bank account might not notice.
Or, you could just be honest – and buy them a bike, too – so they can enjoy the hobby with you.
11. Getting a coach
You’ve come to cycling late, you’re time starved – but you want to make the very most of any strengths you might have.
So you enlist the help of a coach who initially seems like the best investment in the world. Several months later the relationship feels remarkably like the one you share with an unhappy spouse, after you’ve failed to take the bin out for three weeks straight and they’ve accidentally kicked the kitty litter across the carpet.
12. Sweating out a turbo session
It’s quick, effective, and you don’t even have to leave the house to put yourself through immense suffering.
13. Doing an FTP test
As per the above – but now you can claim bragging rights at the cafe stops (and use your FTP to complete tailored training sessions).
14. Riding a full winter season
Most importantly, you’ll learn the true value of quality cycling kit, and the joy of feeling blood pumping through your veins whilst the rest of the world shivers.
15. Entering a time trial
The perfect entry into competitive cycling, cycling time trials allow you to race both the clock and yourself.
If any interest in riding has dwindled, then the new found desire to kick your own ass will have well and truly rejuvenated your excitement levels.
16. Setting off on an epic adventure or touring trip
The idea is usually brought up after a few too many pints or glasses of wine, but that’s not to say it’s a bad one.
A month later and you and your friends are meeting up outside the appointed train station – bags packed and bursting, almost as much as your excitement levels.
17. Riding abroad
You’ve explored every inch of your local territory, and now it’s time to see what the roads abroad have to offer with a cycling holiday or training camp.
Mallorca is the go-to for your first trip – there you’ll find some of the greatest climbs cycling has to offer and enough pelotons steaming along the sea front that you’ll never ride alone.
18. Dabbling in gravel
Time to get off the tarmac, explore a little, work on your handling. You’ll taste a bit of mud when it all goes rubber side up, but it’s all soft so no reason not to jump back on again.
19. Entering a criterium, then a road race
You’ve arrived on the competitive scene. You nervously pin your number onto the back of your club jersey and arrive at the start line.
The start gun goes, and maybe it feel like you’ve finally come of age. The truth is, it’s only just the beginning…