Yes, for some of us bike season is all year. But for many, this is the time of year you bring out the bike, lube it up, and get back out into the fresh air. And many who don't have a bike wistfully wonder if it's time to buy a bike.
In honor of Bike Mmonth, this diary is for people who are considering buying a bike.
Here are some hints especially for beginners:
Skip the big-box retailers and go to a bike shop. This has many advantages: you're shopping with a local business, the staff is knowledgeable, there's a wide variety to choose from, and your bike is more likely to be assembled by somebody who knows what she's doing.
What bike is for you? There are a lot of choices. There are mountain bikes with shock absorbers and fat nubby tires. There are road bikes with curly handlebars and skinny tires. There are single-speed/fixed gear bikes. There are comfort bikes with easy step-in and cushy seats. There are kids bikes, recumbent bikes, beach bikes, tri-bikes, cyclocross bikes and a score of other choices. Don't be intimidated!
Forget what the bike looks like, think about how you will use it. If your biking mainly on paved surfaces, you probably don't need shock absorbers. Unless you're biking on trails (in which case, get a mountain bike), chances are you don't need shocks. Ditto fat tires. Unless you're biking on trails, you don't need mountain bike tires.
You probably don't want to start with a road bike. For short beginner outings (under 50 miles) a hybrid or a comfort bike is a great value, and is likely to be easier to get started on.
Buy the low end. Most bikes have low-medium-and high-end models, with increasingly sophisticated and expensive components. As a beginner, you won't notice the difference.
BUY AND WEAR A HELMET. You only have one brain, protect it. Being hit by a car or otherwise having an accident is no fun, but wearing a helmet increases the probability that you won't have a traumatic brain injury. Other accessories are optional, helmets are standard equipment.
Buy a decent u-lock.
Invest in front (white) and rear (red) lights. Reflectors are all very well and good but they really don't increase your visibility all that much. Get lights, use them after dusk and before dawn and any time visibility might be compromised (such as cloudy, foggy, rainy, or snowy conditions).
Don't worry about bike shorts or other clothing. For rides under 25 miles you will just want comfortable clothes. I find denim uncomfortable, but find what works for you.
In past years, I've written other bike diaries on getting started as a biker. Here's a few:
Please let me know if the comments if it would be helpful to have more diaries about bikes.