Improve Climbing Skills

By AFM Staff – July 1, 2014
Photography by Travis Perkins

On Wednesday nights, Bicycle Sport Shop (BSS) leads the Beginner Ride out of their Research Boulevard store. Typically, the small group consists of some 15 or so new riders who have a variety of interests: trying out a new bike, improving fitness, learning to or practicing riding in a group, and training for an upcoming ride. The goal of this ride is to turn these riders into bike enthusiasts and have cycling become a lifestyle.

The BSS Beginner Ride is a nice spin out on the west side of 183 and north of Braker. It is about 15 miles long and takes riders approximately 1.25 to 1.5 hours to complete. The route heads north on Jollyville Road for about 2.5 miles and then cuts west into the Barrington Way neighborhood. From here, it zigzags north into the Balcones Country Club area. The riders then loop around the golf course, where they encounter the first hill on Crest Ridge Circle. This can be a challenge for the beginner rider; the base of the hill it is approximately a 7–8 percent grade; after some 50 meters, the steepness levels off to a 2–3 percent grade. Avoiding hills in Austin is impossible, and it’s important for riders to learn how to use their gears properly. This enables them to conserve energy so they are able to complete the climb without stopping. The two-part hill at Crest Ridge really helps with teaching this skill.

After the loop around the golf course, the group turns south, returning to the Barrington Way neighborhood for a loop on D-K Ranch and Yaupon. There’s a final climb on Taylor Draper, which gives riders another chance to learn how to ascend. It has a short downhill section where the riders can pick up speed before the climb; this helps to illustrate how to use momentum to get partway up before having to work hard on the climb. It also teaches how to properly shift gears, going out of the big chain ring into the little chain ring, without skipping the chain or—worse yet—having the chain fall off.

The group finishes by traveling down Jollyville to Braker Lane and back to Research and the BSS store, where high fives are exchanged after completing a fun evening of riding.

Ready For the Road

Bicycle Sport Shop, 10947 Research Blvd.

6:15 p.m. — sign waiver, meet fellow cyclists
6:30 p.m. — instructions about route, rules of the road, and Q&A
6:35 p.m. — wheels down

  • Helmets, two water bottles, lights, and closed toe shoes required
  • Bike must be in good working condition
  • Favorite nutrition, sunscreen, sunglasses recommended

Ride updates and cancellations due to weather are announced at

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