How To Get Into Road Cycling
Getting started with cycling can appear a little intimidating. You might find yourself thinking, ‘what gear do I need?’ or ‘how long should I cycle for?’ Taking up cycling is easier than it appears and once you take that first ride, you will be hooked. To help ease those beginner nerves, I have composed some top tips that will ensure you get out onto the open road with confidence.
Select the right bike
A good road bike will guarantee that you are able to cycle with ease and comfort. Do your research and gather recommendations on the different bike brands and models on offer which are within your budget. An endurance focused aluminium road bike will suit most beginners but make sure you test ride one first, the last think you want to do is invest money into a machine that you dislike using.
For first time buyers, I would recommend purchasing a bike from your local bike shop. They can ensure that the bike fits you correctly and offer future bike servicing and maintenance when required.
Get a bike fit
An optimal saddle height, saddle design, and handlebar reach is not only essential for performance but a necessity for comfort and injury prevention. Do not just set your own bike up and hope for the best, get a professional on board to make the appropriate adjustments.
Get the gear
Cycling can appear to be a rather expensive hobby, but it does not need to be. You do not need to splash out on a wardrobe full of different outfit copulations, just get the essentials initially:
- Bike lights
- Fingerless gloves for the summer
- Warm gloves for the winter
- Padded cycling shorts for the summer
- Padded cycling tights or leg warmers for the winter
- Base layer
- Quality waterproof jacket
- Cleated cycling shoes and corresponding pedals
- Track pump
- Mini pump
- Puncture repair kit
- Basic multi tool
- Drinks bottle and bottle cage
Teach yourself basic bike mechanics
Do not make the mistake of having to fix your first puncture or a dropped chain whilst on a ride. There is no good reason for any rider to find themselves stuck in the middle of nowhere with a simple mechanical that they cannot fix. It is important to teach yourself about the basic mechanics of a bike and learn how to fix the most commonly encountered problems at home before your brave the roads.
Create a schedule
As you spend more and more time in the saddle, you will learn about your personal riding style and preferences. Maybe you love riding non-competitively with a group, or you prefer to head out on a solo adventure. Perhaps you find yourself yearning to race, or simply using your bike to commute to work every day. There are endless ways to ride. Whatever you decide to do, draft up a schedule to ensure that you are finding the correct balance between training and recovery.
Train with others
Cycling can be a great social activity. There are plenty of cycling clubs around the country that offer great opportunities for group riding and racing. You will benefit from gaining knowledge of the best local roads, bike technicalities, and cycling training.
You can find clubs on British Cycling’s club finder but if a traditional club feels too daunting, check out Let’s Ride or Breeze Rides for women. Alternatively, take a look at the ride groups on Cycling UK’s site.
Everyone knows that wearing a helmet is an essential when riding but there is more to staying safe than just protecting your head. Always carry a basic multi-tool, a form of identification, money, a phone, and some food and drink.
Make sure that you follow local traffic laws whist riding and familiarise yourself with rider hand signals. Be aware of your surroundings and always anticipate that drivers are not paying attention and have not seen you.
Get out there and have fun
My final tip to anyone ready to begin their cycling journey is to get pedalling as soon as possible and start enjoying the benefits that cycling offers.
About the author: Laura Smith is an elite-level athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.