Cycling for Novices: 6 Essential Pointers to Get You Started

1. Select the Correct Bicycle

Of course, you need a fantastic set of wheels to start. Even though we love all bikes, we’re primarily talking about bikes meant for the road here. The lightweight bikes make it easy for you to travel on paved bike paths and city streets. This is the most popular and convenient type of cycling for beginners.

It would help if you sized your bike before choosing the right running shoes. Aim for roughly an inch of space between your body and the frame when standing over the top tube. A local bike shop can assist you if this is unfamiliar to you. Learn more about how to choose the correct bike size here. You may use a little help getting around.

Next, choose a bike that matches your riding preferences and financial situation. Will you run a few miles on the weekends? Do you intend to work out on your bike? Do you want to engage in racing or long-distance cycling in the future? Road bike frames are designed with precise geometries and parts at every price point to achieve each objective.

Consider your intended uses for the bike and any potential growth opportunities. (For instance: You might be only capable of riding 20 miles right now, but you have your sights set on a 75-mile charity ride.)

2. Prepare yourself

Only half of the puzzle has been solved by finding the ideal bike. You’ll also require a few critical pieces of equipment. The most important safety item is a brand-new helmet, which you should always wear when riding. Since helmets have a limited lifespan, it is better to be safe than sorry and purchase a fresh one rather than using the old one hanging in the garage. Try them all on and select the one that best fits your head, your style, and your budget. New helmets are safe and up to U.S. safety standards. You’ll want to wear it more the more you love it.

Not yet ready to dress the part of a Tour de France rider? No issue. Many companies produce stylish cycling clothing for casual cyclists, like Pearl Izumi’s Bike Style line. We can also help you if your goal is to appear professional. Cycling gear consists of a jersey, matching padded bib shorts or bike shorts, and socks, which are more comfortable and aerodynamic than other athletic attire. The form-fitting cut lessens chafing, the fabric wicks away sweat and aids in controlling body temperature, and the padded seat (chamois) shields delicate areas from road vibration. There are countless colors and patterns, as well as race or relaxed fit, for jerseys.

Even though we advise beginning your cycling adventure with regular flat pedals and sneakers, you may eventually want to switch to road bike shoes and clipless pedals. Your feet are stabilized by this shoe-pedal combination, which enhances bike handling and pedaling effectiveness. Unclipping can occasionally be challenging, so practice in a field until you master it.

A few tools (tire levers, a mini pump, extra tubes, and a multi-tool) and a few water bottles round out the list of essentials. A cycling computer is an additional valuable option for keeping track of mileage and planning routes.

3. Establish a Habit

Your body is adjusting to the pressure of a new activity, so your first few rides may be challenging. Real progress is only made when you persist over the long term, just like in everything else. Being realistic is the first step in developing the habit of riding. Don’t overestimate your ability to cycle 100 miles or anticipate becoming a morning person just because you have a new bike. Begin modestly and expand from there.

No issue what time you decide to ride. Prepare by setting up your gear, packing water, and inflating your tires. Doing a little pre-ride preparation will help you avoid making excuses, which is sometimes the most challenging part of getting ready and deciding to get on the bike.

A long-term objective is a terrific approach to maintaining interest and monitoring progress. You can set a long-term distance goal, look for a local charity ride, or try to ride a specific number of days each week.

4. Be careful.

Wearing a helmet while biking is crucial, as we’ve already discussed, but being safe on a bike involves more than simply safeguarding your head, particularly in a pandemic. Although the CDC recommends against wearing a mask outside, it is nevertheless advised in areas with a high COVID-19 case rate and if you will be near people who have not received their total dose of the vaccine.

Always have an essential multi-tool, a form of identification, cash (dollar bills work as tire boots), and your phone on you when you’re riding alone. Even though we hate to admit it, not all rides go as planned. Avoid getting stuck on the roadside without assistance after a collision or with a broken-down vehicle.

5. Choose Your Ride Style

You’ll discover more about your unique riding preferences and style as you spend more time in the saddle. Perhaps you enjoy doing non-competitive group rides or prefer to go on solitary trips. Maybe you’ve been longing to compete or are just riding your bike to work every day. It only takes a small trial and error to determine your preferred method among the countless ways to hang and enjoy riding.

At some point, you might also discover that your physical attributes and riding skills naturally adapt themselves to a specific discipline. Climbing may be your thing if you consistently ascend hills faster than your peers. Sprinting is your strong suit if you can establish a lead during a “race” to the town line on the Thursday night group ride. Cycling is always intended to be an all-around sport, but focusing on your strengths—or what you enjoy doing most—is a proven method to make it enjoyable. Furthermore, it’s inherent in the sport; whether it’s sprinting, climbing, or time trials, professional cyclists typically specialize in one style.

6. (Finally) Discover a Group

Finding the internal drive to bike frequently has merit, but there are instances when some helpful peer pressure is beneficial. Cycling is a sport that can be played individually or in a team. Even though you can bike and achieve goals on your own, riding in a group can be both physically and mentally easier (because you can draft off one another to reduce wind resistance) and more inspiring.