Cycling for Beginners – Everything You Need to Know
Cycling is a popular form of exercise that can be a great way to travel distances and explore while also getting fit and even losing weight. Beginner cyclists should take the time to get the proper equipment, practise their technique and refine their abilities before taking on extensive journeys.
In this guide our team at Race At Your Pace have put together some top tips and considerations for beginner cyclists. Whether you are beginning cycling as a leisure activity or are taking part in one of our many monthly challenges, here is everything you need to know.
Types of Cycling
The type of cycling you choose to do can impact how you get started, the bike you need and the frequency with which you cycle.
Road cycling is the most common form of cycling, as most people learn to ride a bike on concrete with a regular road bike. Commuters and cycling fanatics alike enjoy riding on the smooth ground and it offers a social or solo experience too.
Other popular forms of cycling include track cycling for keen riders, mountain biking suited to experienced cyclists, or BMX for tricks and nifty sprints. Indoor cycling using bike machines is another popular alternative, ideal for lockdowns or bad weather as you can still train, and even follow virtual classes or online races.
See more: 3 Stationary Bike Workouts – The Best Cycling Challenges for Exercise Bikes
Here are some of the main pieces of equipment every beginner cyclist needs:
Obviously, a bike is required for cycling. However, there are many to choose from and the decision should not be made quickly. Road bikes are the most accessible and suitable for beginners but be sure to assess all the options. Commuter bikes, for example tend to be lightweight and made for city riding, whereas mountain bikes have thicker wheels and durable frames for off-road cycling.
Consider how often you plan to ride, on what surfaces and for how long. Using this information, alongside the advice of experts at a bicycle shop, you will find the right bike for your needs.
Helmets are non-negotiable when it comes to cycling! They can literally be lifesaving so should always be worn when cycling, even if it is just a quick ride. When buying a helmet, make sure it fits your head well and can be securely adjusted for maximum protection.
Beginners don’t need to invest in lots of cycling specific clothes. Initially, just wear lots of layers suitable for the weather and try to resist all the latest gear. As you improve your cycling ability and gain experience, you may find there are things you want to try that could be worth the investment, such as clipped shoes or padded cycling shorts.
Just don’t be put off by all the clothing or lycra-clad cyclists you see; you don’t need it yet and can start with clothes you already own. Tight clothes that won’t fall down or get caught in the chain are best, but watch out for chaffing.
Having some basic bicycle tools on hand can be useful for beginners. A simple pump for inflating tyres, wrench set for tightening and adjustments, and cleaning materials including brushes are all you need to get started. There are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube and guides online to help you learn all the beginner skills you need, such as patching or inflating a flat bike tyre.
Tips for Beginners
Trying to complete a huge distance on your first day will only lead to injury and burnout. Just like running for beginners, you have to start out slow and small, eventually building up pace and distance with improvements. Concentrate on your technique and ability, then worry about how fast or long you can go for.
Also, always stretch! A recent blog of ours looks at the top 6 stretches for cyclists.
When used correctly, bike gears can be a real asset to riders, especially on a climb! Get used to changing gears and cycling using them so you can find out what works best for you and when.
Adjust Your Bike
Your bike has to be adjusted to you to get maximum output. Professionals at a bike supplier can help but the general rule is that your bike saddle should be adjusted to your height, so your knee is slightly bent at the bottom of a pedal stroke, else if lower you may get injured. Similarly, the upper body should be properly angled so your arms and torso create a 45-degree angle, with the handlebars in reach without you leaning excessively.
Stay Motivated with a Monthly Challenge
Some days motivation to get out and cycle may be lacking, especially on bad weather days or if you aren’t seeing progress you hoped to see. One effective solution is sign up to a monthly challenge, such as Race At Your Pace, whereby you choose a distance to cycle and have the whole month to complete it. By doing this, you give yourself a goal to work towards, a timeline in which to complete it, but the freedom to cycle whenever you fancy it instead of feeling pressured or disheartened.
Find out how it works.
Perform Maintenance Checks
Your bike’s health is significant to the efficiency of your rides and your safety. Basic checks include tyre inflation, chain lubing and minimal adjustments as well as cleaning. When undertaking longer journeys or races, ensure your bicycle is well prepared. If not in use for extended periods, for example over winter, be sure to cover your bike and upkeep a good condition.
Country roads, inner cities and even cycle paths can be fraught with danger for cyclists. When cycling, constantly check for other road users, take extra caution at junctions and turnings, and make yourself known with lights/reflectives and a bell. Being complacent when cycling can be a costly mistake so even when you are relaxing and having fun, stay alert.
Get Started with Race At Your Pace
If you are a beginner cyclist looking for motivation or an avid cyclist eager to take on the next challenge, Race At Your Pace has the challenge for you! You can cycle, swim, walk, run and step your way towards your mile goal and even receive a shiny medal for your success. With a whole month to finish your miles, these challenges are perfect for beginners and experienced cyclists alike, giving you the flexibility to go at your own pace.
Sign up today!