How To Get Into Cycling As A Hobby Or For Fitness

couple cycling on paved trail

Getting started in anything can be a challenge, and when you are starting road biking, it can be overwhelming at first. There may seem like there is a lot of stuff to learn, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed in your biking journey.

Cycling can be for just about anyone and, no matter where you are located, cycling can be a fun way to spend time. Even if you’ve never taken a bike ride, you’ll get comfortable at it in no time.

Benefits of Cycling

There are a lot of reasons to start getting into biking. It’s a great way to get some exercise. It can help you get some fresh air while reducing your stress level. If you are using biking as a mode of transportation, you can do your part to be greener, avoid the high price of gas, and avoid some other car related expenses, such as parking, repairs, and insurance.

Choosing a Bike

This is the first step in getting into road biking. Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple, since there are so many options. One of the best choices for an entry-level road bike is one with dropped handlebars. This type of bike allows you to get into a more aerodynamic position to help you ride faster. If you want to use your bike for also riding around town, then a bike with flat bars could be a good choice for you, since you can get the best of both worlds. Set a budget when you shop for a bike, so you don’t spend more than you want.

Getting Some Clothes

You can technically road bike in any sort of fitness clothes, but if you want to look the part and be comfortable, a pair of cycling shorts is the key. These shorts contain a pad to stay comfortable during longer rides. It’s important the shorts fit properly, in order to provide maximum comfort, and women can buy specific ones that have some added protection. When getting a jersey, the important thing is fit so it doesn’t flap around in the wind. If you are going to be biking in the winter, get a cycling jacket to stay warm.

Learn to Clip In

Bikes may not be sold with pedals, and if they are, they are flat pedals. If you want to be taken seriously as a biker, you need to go with a pair of clipless pedals. These are pedals that you clip your shoes into and it can make a big difference when it comes to efficient riding. Having your feet attached to the pedals can be a foreign concept for many people, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature and really does make a difference in your ride. You will need a pair of shoes that works with the type of pedal you use on your bike.

Remember Bike Maintenance

A bike that is properly maintained will make the ride more enjoyable. If you are new to cycling, you will need to know how to do a tune up or head to an independent bike shop for one. The more you get into biking, the better it is to read a book or take a class that teaches you some more basics of bike maintenance. Getting some basic tools will allow you to properly maintain your bike. A puncture repair kit can help you keep your tires in check, while a multi tool with a screwdriver and various sized Allen keys can help you solve a lot of other problems.

Do A Pre-Ride Inspection

Once you have a properly maintained bike, still make sure to check it before you hit the road. Does the bike fit you? You should have at least one to two inches of clearance between you and the top bar. The seat height needs to be adjusted for you. It’s a personal preference whether the saddle should be level, tipped backward, or forward. The right position and height will make pedaling easier on your knees. When you extend your leg in the six o’clock position, your knee should be slightly bent, in order to be in the right position. Check the wheels and brakes before you go to make sure they are full secured and the brakes are working. Check the tires for any cracks and be sure they are inflated to the correct pressure, which you will find on the tire sidewall. The chain should be properly lubricated. Spin the crank and shift through the gears to make sure they move smoothly.

Have the Right Helmet

Helmets can be effective in preventing brain injuries in the event of an accident, but only if you wear yours. Some states may also require you to wear a helmet and you could get a ticket if you don’t have one. Heads come in different sizes, so make sure you have a helmet that properly fits. You can adjust the fit dial or cinching mechanism so the helmet fits snug and comfortably. You can also remove or add interior pads on specific helmet models. When on your head, the bike helmet should be about one to two finger widths above the eyebrow. If it goes past, it’s too big, and if it doesn’t reach the eyebrows, it’s too small. A buckled chinstrap should be snug with only one to two fingers width space between. If you shake your head and the helmet is moving, readjust it so that it is secure. You need to be able to open your mouth wide without the chinstrap pulling the helmet.

Pick a Route

If you know someone who is already into biking, ask him or her which routes they like to take. A local bike shop or biking club may have some insight as well, or you can do some research online. When you are selecting a route, consider traffic, hills, road construction, and if the streets have bike lanes or shoulders for safety.

Take a Practice Spin

For your first ride, find a paved biking trail that isn’t crowded or a vacant parking lot so you can get a feel for the brakes and how the bike is working. You can also practice clipping in, releasing, and stopping before you go out on the road and have to deal with some obstacles.

Join a Cycling Club

One of the reasons to get involved in a sport is to make some new friends, and the best way to do this is to join a cycling club and become a part of the cycling community. Research clubs in your area. Some will allow you to ride for free for a few weeks before you have to pay any membership fees, and some don’t have any fees and just offer meet ups to discover new routes.

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