Cycling for Beginners: Essential Tips Every Novice Needs to Know
WORDS: Peter Minkoff PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied
Cycling is an exciting sport that’s quickly rising in popularity, and for good reason. Not only are bike rides surprisingly fun and efficient workouts, but they also represent an excellent way to spend some time in nature and explore the world around you. However, this activity might seem a bit challenging and overwhelming as well, especially if you’re focusing on all the complex advice aimed at more seasoned cyclists. To ease you into biking and ensure a more pleasurable experience, here are some of the most essential cycling tips every beginner should know:
Invest in the right equipment
With the market continuing to grow, there’s a wide array of cycling clothing to suit anyone’s budget, needs, and preferences. But aside from aesthetics, your main focus should be on safety and comfort. A proper cycling helmet is the most important piece of equipment that could quite literally save your life. Choose a lightweight, well-fitting helmet within your budget and wear it at all times to ensure safety.
Padded cycling shorts are recommended as well, helping to minimise pain associated with long rides and imperfect terrains. If you opt for mountain biking, protective gear such as knee pads and a good pair of gloves will be essential. Cycling sunglasses are also useful for protecting your eyes from stones, insects, the sun, and other elements.
Improve your cycling technique
While there’s no ‘correct’ way to cycle, there are some techniques you could use to ensure a more secure and enjoyable biking experience. Start by improving your bike position and perfecting the handlebars and saddle height. The more comfortable you feel on your bike, the happier and more confident you will be overall.
When riding, avoid ‘cross chaining’ the gears to lessen the load on the entire system, and try to maintain a regular high cycling cadence (approximately 70-90 pedal revolutions). This will assist you in cycling more powerfully and efficiently.
Know what to eat and drink
No cycling technique will help you if you don’t have the energy to finish your biking trip. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you could do for your health, helping you to prevent dehydration and maximise your performance. Invest in a high-quality bidon and always bring it with you in order to remain hydrated when cycling. A bottle cage might be practical as well.
Snacks can also be beneficial for fueling your body during bike rides, but you have to make a wise choice. Stick to energy bars, protein bites, and foods with good carbohydrates to keep your energy levels high, prevent mid-journey slumps, and boost post-ride recovery.
Prioritise cycling safety
Cycling is a pleasurable sport that makes you want to put in your headphones, put on a good playlist, hit the road, and simply enjoy the ride. However, that may not always be the best option, especially if you’re riding through busy areas. Attentiveness, caution, and confidence will be critical for ensuring safety.
This means improving your traffic-riding skills and learning how to cycle safely on rural roads and city streets alike. Use ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ road positions appropriately, and be careful not to jam the brakes – you might end up going over the handlebars. When going off-road, allowing your loved ones to track you through a cycling app might be a good idea, too.
Simplify bike maintenance
To keep your bike in optimal condition, you will need to maintain it regularly as well. Thankfully, this process doesn’t have to be too complicated. Simply fitting fenders for wet conditions and keeping your bike clean will aid in preventing damage and extending the life of your bike. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated will also help to minimise wear and tear.
Tyre pressure is another important aspect of maintenance – check it regularly and adjust when necessary. To handle any mishaps on the road effectively, you should also learn how to fix a tyre puncture and carry a repair kit with you at all times. For all other maintenance needs, a friendly local bike shop will be your best friend.
Cycling is an incredibly fun activity. Follow the advice mentioned above, keep practising and persevering, and most importantly remember to enjoy yourself. You will go from a novice to a professional in no time.