Getting Started Cycling

cyclist view across handlebars

My love of cycling started when I was young. I remember as a young boy spending hours each summer riding up and down our country driveway. It was an old hand me down Schwinn with a banana seat. As I got older, my bike trips got longer. 

The old country store was a little more than a mile down the road. It wasn’t uphill both ways, but it was quite a struggle to get over that first hill to cross the Etna line with that single gear. Once I made it to the store, I would buy some candy from the bin and an ice-cold soda from the cooler.

As the years went by, I would hop on my mountain bike and ride for miles to get to my friend’s house. We would spend the day playing, and then I would jump on my bike and head home to get ready for dinner. 

As the years rolled by, my love of cycling stayed with me. I love hitting the trails on my bike and enjoying my time outside. Now they even have cool things like electric bikes.

Some Great Benefits

After taking your first ride, you’ll feel a sense of joy and freedom. I won’t be long before that first ride turns into a passion or hobby.

Cycling not only improves your strength and overall fitness, but it is also fantastic for your mental outlook. It’s a brilliant way to burn calories and melt away the pounds we all seem to put on before spring rolls around. For me, stress and anxiety seem to melt away, as well. I always come back from cycling, feeling refreshed. Getting a bike rack to transport your bike opens up the possibilities of places you can go for your biking adventures.

Beginner’s Tips on Cycling

So if you are getting into cycling for the first time, or it has been a while since you have been out, here are a few tips to get you going.

It’s Simple To Get Started

It is straightforward to get started cycling. While it seems like there are a million options related to bikes, gear, and accessories, all you need is a bike and helmet.

Now that’s not to say that is all you will ever need, but to get started, it’s simple. You may be thinking all I need is a bike. Having a helmet isn’t optional, in my opinion. I always felt foolish wearing one, until the first time I went flying over my handlebars. I hit a stump covered by some tall grass. Trust me. You’ll be much better off wearing a helmet. 

Get a Bike Suitable for You  

Put some time into thinking about the type of cycling you believe you will do the most. Some people love riding the paved roads for miles and miles. If that is the case, then you will want to look at a road bike.

Others prefer being off the beaten path, squirreling their way through winding and narrow mountain biking trails. You will want to look at mountain bikes if that is your calling.

You also have the option of getting a hybrid bike, which will give you the best of both worlds. A hybrid will work well enough on paved roads, dirt roads, and smoother trails.

While a hybrid bike allows you to go more places, the tradeoff is that it does not excel at any of them.

The last bike to consider is an electric bike or an e-bike. These are great for cruising around campus, a campground, or commuting to work.

Electric bikes help you get where you are going faster, and don’t require nearly as much effort while pedaling. Yes, you still need to drive the bike. These are perfect for riding and showing up at your destination, not covered in sweat. 

Now It’s Time To Look At Some Gear

Okay, so you have a bike, and you have a helmet. You did get a helmet right. Good, your mother will be pleased. Here are a few more items you can consider getting.

  • Sunglasses or other eye protection
  • A water bottle with a wire holder
  • Sunscreen
  • A bike lock
  • Tire repair kit

You will also want to ride in comfort. Depending on where you are going or how long you will be gone, you can get away with just about anything for clothing.

For longer rides, you will be much better off getting clothes designed for cycling. That includes things like biking shorts, padded gloves, and a lightweight moisture-wicking shirt.

When it’s cooler, some people prefer tights or legwarmers. I am sure they also have a more manly name for the guys, but you know what I mean. 

If you have a road bike, you may want cycling shoes. The last thing I would suggest is a bright reflective vest when riding on the road with cars. Sometimes it is better.  

Develop A Habit Of Riding 

It is not uncommon to be a little sore after riding the first few times. No need to worry. It gets easier after a few times, especially if you develop the habit of riding regularly. Before you know it, your muscles will be stronger, and your cardio will increase. If your muscles do get sore, you can always use a foam roller to help loosen them up. If you have never used a foam roller, you should try one. It does wonders for muscle recovery.

Learn to fix your tires on your own 

There is a pretty good chance you are not going to have AAA for your bicycle. No tow truck is going to come along and give you a hand when you get a flat. 

Getting a flat tire is going to happen to you at some point in time. Having a tire repair kit with you to fix your flat tire is a good idea. A small pump and a patch kit or a spare inner tube to fit your tire is al you will need to be on your way. It is well worth the small investment to pick one up. 

It is also worth the time to practice changing your tire ahead of time. It is much easier to figure out how to do in the comfort of your garage or your driveway when there is no pressure. It will save you time and frustration on the road when you need to do it for real.

Try A Group Ride Or Join A Club 

Riding solo can have a lot of benefits. You can go at your own pace and go exactly where you want to go. It is also a great time to clear your head or ponder the more profound things of life. You may find cycling is an excellent group activity. It allows you to meet people who share the same interest. So if being a social butterfly is part of your makeup, check around for cycling groups in your area. 

Take Care Of Your Bike

Your bike, like your body, needs to be maintained. You should perform regular maintenance before each ride by checking your brakes, tires, and chain. 

The drivetrain and chain tend to be the dirtiest part of your bike. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated will extend the life of your drivetrain and chain by reducing wear. They make lubricants explicitly designed for bikes that I highly recommend using. 

Easy Champ, Don’t Kill Yourself.

It’s always exciting when you start something new. One word of caution is not to overdo it. Ease into your new activity. Don’t start with a 75-mile bike ride your first time out. Pace yourself and enjoy yourself. You will find some fantastic places to ride both in and out of state parks.