If you’re contemplating taking up cycling, several factors need to be considered such as your current physical fitness and the particular cycling style you’re interested in. However, given its increasing popularity as a sport, you can find plenty of resources available to assist you in starting your cycling journey.
Here are a few things to think about to help you get started:
Don’t try to do too much
Cycling is very good for your fitness levels but if you are just starting out, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to get exhausted and knackered and then not want to go out again. You need to build up your cycling gradually so you can enjoy it and continue with it as a long-term hobby.
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Get the right bike
Choosing a bike is clearly the first thing you need to do to get into cycling and for advice and guidance, the best thing to do is use your local cycle shop. They will be able to make sure your chosen bike is a perfect size; they can build it for you and will be able to give you lots of advice on getting started.
It’s good to have somewhere to go when you have questions and most bike shops will also sell all the other kits you might need as well, so you can know that you are safe in expert hands as you start out on your cycling journey.
The type of bike you go for will depend on your cycling plans but a road bike is the best choice for most beginners. If you need to go off-road you might need a BMX or something different and for cycle racing, you need a specific race bike like a fixed gear bike.
Get the right fit
When you start out cycling the last thing you want is to get saddle sore on your first trip out, or to end up in a lot of discomforts, so work with the shop when you buy the bike, to make sure it’s a perfect fit from the outset. You need to make sure the saddle height is right and that the saddle itself is comfortable to sit on. Make adjustments before you go riding.
Invest in a comfortable saddle
One of the key things to avoid is being uncomfortable on a long ride because of your saddle so make sure you buy a design that works best for your body. You might also want to buy some padded cycling shorts for further protection.
Buy the right accessories
You do need to buy some important pieces of kit when you first start cycling, as well as your bike, which can feel quite expensive, but once you have them you don’t need to buy any more, and they will go a long way to keeping you safe and comfortable. Items you need straight away are:
- Cycle helmet
- Cycle lock
- Cycling gloves
- Specialist cycling clothes including cycling jerseys, shorts, waterproof jackets, and layering
- Cycling shoes
- Repair kit and tools
Learn bike maintenance
When you are first getting into cycling, you want it to be a really enjoyable experience and nothing will damper that more than something going wrong with your bike when you have cycled a couple of hours away from home.
You need to make sure you can do some basic maintenance before you set out, so learn how to repair a puncture and how to get your bike back on the road safely if it goes wrong. There are plenty of how-to videos online to help you learn these skills. Also, make sure you always carry a tool and repair kit with you in your backpack when heading out.
Consider a cycling club
If you want to take up cycling socially then maybe consider joining a local cycling club as you will get to meet like-minded people as well as information about local cycling routes and somewhere to go when you have any questions or technical issues.
Learn how your bike works
It might be some time since you’ve ridden a bike so make sure you get used to how it all works and how it responds and practice some of your key cycling skills before heading out on any kind of challenging trail ride.
Get used to your front and rear brake sensitivities so you don’t brake too hard and end up throwing yourself over the handlebars the first time you have to come to a stop.
Make sure you are familiar with the bike gears as well and make use of them. Notice when your bike feels wrong and your pedaling is either too fast or too slow and be sure to change gear appropriately. You need to know how your bike is going to respond to your every maneuver before you can even think about taking it confidently on the road.
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