First two weeks: Words of wisdom
Huzzah! I have been a brand new bicyclist for two whole weeks now, and I've learned many pearls of wisdom, some by reading this forum, but many through experiment. I hope you will benefit from them.
1. If you ride on a hill more than once, it shrinks a little each time, getting easier to mount. I assume that bike tires cause surprising amounts of erosion.
2. Bring water.
2a. Drink the water.
2b. If you get a chance to refill the water bottle, do it.
2c. If it's 90 degrees outside, it's 110 degrees on the bike.
3. Pedaling faster isn't really that much more work. And you get farther.
4. Shifting to a higher gear helps you go farther, faster.
4a. But if you forget to shift back to the lower gear at the bottom of a hill, you don't go anywhere much.
4b. Shifting to a higher gear doesn't appear to do much to slow you down when going down a hill.
4c. Pedaling backward definitely doesn't do anything to slow you down.
5. Even if you're too new and nervous to ride on the street, people will still try to back over you in your own parking lot.
5a. Even if yelling "AWK!" like an alarmed kitten isn't very butch, it is still sometimes a good idea, as long as it's nice and loud.
5b. It's okay to grab a helmet, even if you're just heading to the other end of the apartment complex.
6. No matter how much better you get, someone on the multi-use trail is better. That can be inspiring.
6a. No matter how much you suck, someone on the multi-use trail sucks worse. That can be inspiring, too.
6b. Often, level of skill seems to correspond with awesomeness of equipment. But not always.
6c. The guy pedaling through town on a beaten-up bike, wearing a construction helmet, towing three little red wagons in a row full of stuff, has achieved a level of awesomeness that money cannot buy.
7. It's good to have goals, like "I want to ride 100 miles" or "I want to ride up that 18% grade hill between home and work."
7a. But it's good to have more short-term goals, too.
7b. And it's okay to not worry so much about goals, and just ride because it feels good.
I hope this is useful for you. After all, when you learn things, you should always share what you've learned with others.
I can hardly wait to see what I learn in September.