As with any sport, deciding to try something new can be intimidating. This is especially true for anyone thinking about taking up cycling. It requires a certain capital investment, some know how, and what happens if you just don’t wind up liking it?
I get it. I hesitated on purchasing a bike because I was worried I:
- Wouldn’t enjoy riding.
- Would not ride enough to make a new bike worthwhile.
- Didn’t know where to ride safely.
In the end I decided to go for it, make the purchase, and I found a sport that I absolutely love. If you are thinking about buying a bike, or are a brand new cyclist, here are my tips to help you fall in love with your new ride.
Tips for Beginner Cyclists
Yes, you absolutely need a helmet
First things first, please make sure you buy yourself a helmet that fits your head well. Helmets come in a variety of price points and different sizes. Then make sure that your helmet is adjusted properly on your head (chin strap not too tight or too loose and that the straps form a v under your ears). For more on selecting and fitting a helmet, this article from REI is great.
Purchase a pair of cycling shorts
It can take a bit of time to get used to sitting on a saddle. To help ease that feeling on your tooshie I highly recommend riding in a pair of cycling shorts. The chamois inside will help to support your sit bones and protect your soft tissues. Also, please don’t wear underwear underneath your cycling shorts as that will cause chaffing and irritation.
You can find some inexpensive cycling shorts through Mountain Equipment Co-op here in Canada.
Purchase a pair of cycling gloves
You may find that leaning forward onto the handlebars puts some pressure on the ulnar and median nerves in your hands. A pair of cycling gloves with some padding on the palms can help to absorb the vibration from rolling over the road and minimize the pressure/pinching on those nerves. My favourite gloves are the Specialized SL Comp gloves.
Get a bike fit
With any new runner my first recommendation is to visit a specialty running store to get fitted with a pair of running shoes that works for your gait. The same is true for making sure that your bike is properly fit and adjusted for your own personal body dimensions and level of flexibility. A poorly fitting bike will be uncomfortable to ride and could wind up causing an injury. If you are buying a new ride from your local bike shop chances are some kind of bike fit will be included with your purchase. If you are looking for a recommendation on where to get a bike fit here in Calgary let me know!
Learn the rules of the road
It is important to understand the laws governing cyclists where you live (see Calgary Cycling Safety and the Law). For example, here in Calgary a bike is considered a vehicle on the road and you are not allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. You have to have front and tail lights if you will be riding in the dark. Make sure you are aware of your rights and responsibilities and always try to ride safe. Please never listen to music when you are riding your bike outdoors as it makes it very difficult to be aware of your surroundings.
If you don’t like spin class it doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy riding a bike
Spin class and riding outdoors are very different. If you don’t enjoy spin classes then please don’t think you won’t like riding a bike outside. The two are not comparable. The feel on the bike is different, plus you can’t beat the beautiful scenery outside!
Ride with friends
Do you have some friends that you can meet up with for a bike ride? When I first started getting into cycling it was really helpful to ride with some very patient friends who could help give pointers on how to shift or how to ride downhill. It is always great to have company on any workout no matter what!
Explore the scenery around you
One of the things I love about running is being able to explore new places. Cycling offers the same benefit…except you can go further faster! Take the time to find some new routes and enjoy the beauty around you.
If you have any questions about getting started please don’t hesitate to ask!
Are you a cyclist? If so, share a newbie story!