Hi everyone! Freshly graduated from high school just outside of Philadelphia, I'm getting ready to go to school up in Boston this coming fall. I recently became interested in cycling and so I've been trying to learn as much as I can about the sport and bikes themselves. For years, I had been satisfied riding on my creaky, plasticky, awkward department store mountain bike. What got me interested in cycling, though, was discovering my grandfather's bikes which he used to tour Scotland, Israel, Germany, and several other places. I don't know the years but his mountain bike is a Diamondback Topanga, and the road bike is a Trek 7000 series. The Topanga is in great shape, I've been using it for some trails around Philly: Forbidden Drive, Kelly Drive, Pennypack Park, and the Delaware Canal. Just yesterday I brought out the Trek for the first time and began to clean it up--besides new tires, tubes, handlebar tape, and probably some new brake pads, it should be in great shape, ready for me to hit the roads a little faster than in the Topanga.
Anyway, I'm just excited to start riding! If anyone has any advice for a new rider maybe thinking about taking it to a competitive level in college, I would appreciate it very much! Also, any good trails/rides around Philly anyone wants to tip me off to, I'd love it!
First, my advice is to get a couple prs of bike shorts, maybe one for touring (baggy) & one for racing (tighter fit)
I raced in college, my advice: get in plenty of "base miles" during the off-season (you should try to average 100-200 miles per week before race season -- which might start in March for you).
1) Cross-train by running stairs, lifting weights, and plenty of stomach crunches.
2) Have fun, join a local club for weekend fun rides - maybe your local bike store. Get used to riding in a pack of riders, and keeping your line.
3) Balance your exercise & diet.
4) stretch & cool-down after every ride.
5) take a small set of tools w/ you on every ride including tubes, a patch kit, 2-3 tire levers, a 4-5-6 combo allen wrench (hex wrenches).
I can't tell you anything about Philly except steak sandwiches.
Don't worry about all the other technical stuff for now, just get a feel for your wheels. I look forward to hearing how things go for you!