Transitioning from spin bike to road bike!

Photo by John Pierce

Photo by John Pierce

How did I go from a research scientist to a professional cyclist? Well, cyclists don’t like to hear this, but I started out with a goal of racing a triathlon.  There was one problem though.  I didn’t own a bike.  With the triathlon a few short months away, I knew I needed to get some “bike fitness”.  I joined the local gym and started taking spin classes!  With the music cranking, the sweat pouring, and my lungs burning, I was hooked.   Not only did I win my triathlon, it opened a door for me to race my bike professionally.

I still teach “spin” classes (at Endurance Performance Training Center) when I am home because I love encouraging people to challenge themselves, find comfort in suffering, and achieve their goals.

Here is a quick guide I wrote for SELF Magazine  about simple tips you need to know to transition from the spin bike to the great outdoors!

Check out the full article HERE! I am so honored SELF let me write this for them! I love spreading the love for more women on bikes!

Gear you should probably get

  • Chamois (Only amateurs call it a “shammy.”): These are cycling shorts with the pad in them. They’ll make your seat a little more comfortable so you can ride longer. Insider’s tip: Go commando. Too much material down there and you’re asking for chafing.
  • Saddle bag: Think of that little bag that attaches to the back of your saddle like your emergency make-up kit. You’ll want to keep those “just in case” supplies, such as a new tire tube, a tire patch kit, CO2 cartridges, and tire irons, in the (unlikely) event you get a flat.
  • Shoes: In Spin class, cycling shoes or cleats are optional. But you’ll probably need them outdoors. They allow you to utilize all the muscles in your legs, including your quads, hamstrings, and glutes as you engage your entire leg around the circle of the pedal stroke (aka they make you more efficient). Clipping in can be scary, so definitely practice how to mount and dismount your bike safely indoors.

Gear you can pass on

  • A fancy bike: You don’t need to have the most expensive bike and wheels on the rack. Don’t get caught up in having to purchase the latest and greatest equipment. Make your first priority be that your bike and wheels are safe and reliable. Start with a “starter” bike and trade up when you need to.
  • Fanny pack: Consider that cycling jersey or jacket your bike bag. It should have enough pockets to hold snacks, keys, money, lip balm—whatever you want to carry for your ride. You don’t need a back pack or fanny pack.
  • Gadgets: Tracking your stats (pace, distance, time, elevation) is excellent to know, but you don’t need to shell out for a pricy bike computer. Inexpensive apps like Strava can get the job done.

How not to look stupid

  • Wear your helmet correctly: Place that helmet snuggly on your head and low enough to protect from frontal impact, tighten the straps, and enjoy the ride. This isn’t your opportunity to try to be a fashion innovator here. Accept that.
  • Avoid the “rookie tattoo”: A sure sign of spotting a newbie cyclist is the dreaded grease chain mark on your leg. If you don’t want to risk ruining your clothes or calling yourself out as a beginner, be cautious when maneuvering around your bike. Don’t get too close to the chain. Simple.
  • Wear fitted gear: Your clothes should fit your frame and not become a brightly hued parachute in the wind. Comfort is most important in cycling, so wear clothes that are intended for the sport. Don’t be intimidated by a race kit (“kit” is a cycling term for uniform). You don’t have to be all matchy-matchy but investing in quality cycling clothing can enhance your overall performance, comfort, and style.

How to make sure you get a good work out

  • Take advantage of terrain: Pick a cycling route that challenges not only your endurance but also your legs. Going up hills is a good way to add intensity to your ride, but don’t forget to push yourself in the flat roads as well. Try to find that sweet spot where you feel aerobically uncomfortable.
  • Spin, spin, spin: One of the best parts about cycling is that there’s so much to see. But that can get distracting, and you might forget to spin your legs. Always try to keep your legs moving. The higher your cadence (pedal revolutions), the higher your heart rate—and the more calories you burn.
  • Have a goal every time you ride: Setting a goal ensures that you won?t “waste” any outings. That doesn’t mean that the ride can’t be just for fun, but if you approach each ride with a plan to improve on something specific, whether it’s endurance or skills, you will keep getting better.

Cycling lingo you should know

  • Kit: A cycling-specific outfit that includes the cycling jersey and shorts.
  • Chamois: Padded bike shorts.
  • Bibs: The shorts with suspender-looking straps. They have a streamline fit, but aren?t very bathroom-friendly. Bibs are always worn under the jersey.
  • Jersey: The shirt with a zipper on the front and pockets on the back that you wear when riding. This can be long sleeve or short sleeved or paired with a set of arm warmers for varying temperatures.
  • Big ring and little ring: These are the front chain rings on your bike, and the bigger looking dinner plate is a harder gear and the smaller one is easier.
  • Cogs: The stack of gears on your rear wheel. The smaller the circle, the harder the gear is.
  • Brakes: The lever on your right-hand side is your rear brake, and your left hand holds the lever for your front brake. Rather than grabbing a handful of brakes, learn to “feather” them to slow down smoothly.
  • Shifters: For a typical road bike set-up, think right, rear. Your right hand will shift the cogs on your rear wheel, and your left hand will allow shifting to your big and little ring.
  • Bonk: That feeling where you hit the wall and can no longer pedal. Proper fuel and increased fitness can help you avoid this.


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