Getting Started: Top Cycling Tips for Beginners
Are you thinking about getting into cycling? It's a fun sport, with plenty of different disciplines. Whether you want the thrill of navigating your way through a downhill trail or the competitive excitement of a street race, cycling has plenty of options to keep you fit, healthy, and entertained.
This post unpacks some basic tips for newcomers to cycling.
General Cycling Tips
What Distance Should You Ride as a Beginner Cyclist?
It takes time to build the strength and stamina you need to start cycling for long distances as a beginner. A hard ride on an uphill might leave you feeling breathless. However, as you get fitter, you can start increasing your weekly distance.
Beginners should aim for an average of eight miles per ride, with an average speed of 8mph. However, this is just a rule of thumb. Riding eight miles on a trail is far more demanding than doing the same distance on asphalt.
Beginners should hop on their bikes and see how far they get in an hour. Assess the situation and turn around, or carry on riding. Just make sure you don't overdo things with your enthusiasm in the first week, or you could wind up with an injury.
What are the Best Clothing Options for Cycling?
1. Bike shorts
Cycling shorts are an essential item for beginners. They come with additional padding around the crotch and buttocks, giving your groin support on the seat. The shorts feature design and construction with flexible materials that wick sweat away from your skin.
2. Bike jersey
Get yourself a short-sleeve biking jersey for use on warm days. Choose moisture-wicking, airy materials and a tight fit to reduce air drag when riding. Look for jerseys with pockets in the rea, allowing you to stow away your valuables while riding.
3. Bike socks
We recommend choosing nylon or polyester socks to prevent blisters from forming on your feet. Look for moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry.
4. Bike gloves
Gloves are important for riding in cold weather, and they also protect your hands from scrapes and cuts if you take a fall. We recommend going for fingerless gloves. These gloves let you keep contact with the bar and brakes for total control over the bike.
5. Bike shoes
Your shoes should have thin soles to get your feet as close to the pedals as possible. Choose lightweight shoes, and look for styles without laces. Some road bikes come with cleats that clip into the pedals, specifically designed for road riding.
Protect your head while riding. Make sure you get a model from a high-quality manufacturer. Helmets are single-use only. If you have an accident or drop it, it reduces the helmet's structural integrity, and you'll need to buy a new one.
When choosing your riding gear, go for lightweight, brightly colored clothing. The lightweight fabrics must also feature plenty of airflow through the material to keep you dry. Choosing equipment with bright colors is especially important for riding on the road, improving your visibility to drivers.
What Safety Precautions Do You Need to Take When Cycling?
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Monitor your surroundings at all times and don't wear earphones and play music while riding, especially if you're cycling in the street. Earphones can limit your awareness of obstacles and dangers behind you or your reaction to warnings.
Always carry a safety kit with you containing the following components.
- Patching kit.
- A spare tire tube.
- Tire iron (optional).
- CO2 inflation cartridges or a pump.
Look Out for Road Hazards
The road and the trail have hazards you need to look out for on your ride. Potholes, oil slicks, potholes, gravel, broken glass, puddles, leaves, and animals all present a threat to your safety. Keep an eye out for road harasses and pay attention to your surroundings.
Etiquette and Tips for Riding with Other Cyclists
Other people have to use the road, track, and trail, so it's important to observe the following etiquette on your ride.
- Ride on the right side of the road or path.
- Follow the flow of traffic on the road.
- Use hand signals to make drivers aware of your turns.
- Observe all traffic laws, lights, and stop signs.
- When passing another cyclist, yell out, "on your left," before making your move.
General Tips for Cycling Styles
When riding off-road, you don't spend much time in the saddle, especially if you're moving downhill. To keep the bike from throwing you, stand on your pedals. Position your bodyweight over the middle of the frame.
Bend your knees to get your center of gravity as low as possible to the frame. This posture gives you better control and response over the bike. Keep your elbows up, and you'll find you have much better control over the handlebars.
When you're racing, you're riding with a pack. Therefore, it's a good idea to get some practice before signing up for a real race. Join a local cycling club and go out on weekend rides with the team. It's a great way to learn to ride in a pack, and you'll make plenty of new friends with common interests.
The night before the race, pull up the course on Google Maps. Spend an hour or so reviewing it, so you know what to expect during the race. Look for the downhills, accents, and corners to see where you need to increase your speed or slow down to maneuver.
Go with the flow of the traffic. That's means you need to ride on the side of the road that you would if you were driving a car. Make sure you obey all traffic laws and remember to yield for pedestrians. Always yield to oncoming traffic, and watch out for parked vehicles and other obstacles in your way.
Long-Distance Training or Racing
Get an early start to your race or your training. If you ride long distances when the sun is up and hot, it puts you at risk of dehydration. Try to get out of the house by 8 AM at the latest. Review the weather report the night before to ensure you don't get caught by a storm halfway through your ride.
Stretch Before Your Ride
Before you head out for a ride, take the time to stretch your quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, and hips. Stretching helps your body warm up faster, and it's a preventative exercise for avoiding injury.
Stretching before your ride keeps you in the seat for longer and extends the longevity of your cycling career.