Starting on anything is usually difficult, and getting into cycling as a fitness routine can be quite intimidating if you’re a beginner. You may have watched professional cyclists or someone trying to beat the morning traffic and wondering if you can do it.
However, cycling can be fun besides it being an excellent way to exercise. And you never know how it’ll go for you until you start doing it. Who knows, it might even turn out to be something you’ll enjoy for a long time. For you to get rid of the fear and help you get started, this guide offers you tips, tricks, and reasons you should get on that bike and start cycling.
General Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is an excellent, low-impact healthy exercise that you can enjoy at any age. You can use it to get to work or run errands—effectively combining regular routines with exercise. It has immense benefits including:
- It can help you stay active without being strenuous, but you can still make it as intense as you want.
- It may help in weight loss when undertaken regularly and at high intensity by helping you burn calories.
- Being out in the open air helps improve mental health.
- It’s good for the environment because it doesn’t emit any carbon and doesn’t contribute to noise pollution.
- It can be an excellent alternative means of transport, especially when you want to skip traffic.
As you can see, cycling has immense benefits to your physical and mental health. Health experts advise riding between 30 and 60 minutes for at least three to five days a week. However, before incorporating cycling into your daily routine, make sure to keep the following in mind:
1. Safety First
It’s important to observe caution on the road when cycling. Bicycle injuries are rapidly increasing, and you’ll be safer cycling away from heavy traffic. If you find yourself on a busy road, try riding at least a meter from the edge of the road. This way, you’ll be visible to other road users. You also have a lot of room to navigate any obstacles along the way. If your area has bike lanes, then make sure to stay on it.
2. Get The Right Bike And Gear
It’s obvious that you’ll need a bicycle but which one is the best for fitness? The truth is, there are many bike varieties out there. However, the most critical factor is that the bike fits your body perfectly. Everything about the bicycle, including the height and shape of the handlebars, the seat’s tilt, and the tires all affect how your body feels on the bike. If you need a bicycle that fits your individual needs, you need to have it professionally fitted.
If the bicycle doesn’t fit you correctly, it will have adverse effects on your knees, butt, and back. It will also feel uncomfortable and will gradually reduce your interest to ride. Other than the bike itself, your gear also counts a lot. Wearing comfortable cycling gear is also crucial to your riding success. Other helpful cycling equipment you need include:
- A helmet for utmost protection and safety.
- Glasses to protect your eyes from sun glare, debris, and wind.
- Cycling gloves to keep your fingers from feeling numb and reduce pressure on the nerves in your hands.
- Inner Tubes
- A Hand Pump
3. Choose A Route
Another way to enjoy cycling as a beginner is to choose and plan your route beforehand. This will help increase your confidence as you’ll be aware of the areas you’re navigating. Here, you can utilize online maps and tools to help you find the perfect route. You can also buy the best smartphone bike mounts and install it on your bike, so that you can check the route easily when riding.
4. Build Your Beginner Biking Workout
Keeping fit through cycling requires a steady rhythm. For that, you need to get a route with open roads away from traffic and distractions. You can seek help from other cyclists in your area to know which areas have the best open roads for cyclists.
While you are cycling, learn to master balancing your pedaling pace. Try to keep the speed at a pace that isn’t too fast that you find yourself bouncing on the seat, or too slow that you’re straining too hard. Try to keep a speed of between 80 to 90 revolutions per minute while counting on one leg. Finding and maintaining that speed improves your cardiovascular health without straining your muscle or joints.
When starting, you can try to keep the rides for at least 30 minutes long. The first few days may cause sore glutes, calves, shoulders and neck. But it eases as your muscles gain strength. It’s essential to keep changing the position of your hands. It helps to remove tension on the neck and shoulders. Also, learn to ride with relaxed shoulders. Avoid hunching to prevent unnecessary strain.
5. Start Small Then Increase Distance And Speed
Even if you know how to balance properly on a bicycle and haven’t done it for a long time, start by taking on small distances to familiarize yourself with the routine. Cycling is a low-impact exercise that you can stretch as long as your fitness level allows. Once you start getting used to the rides, start to increase the distance and speed gradually. This way, you’ll be able to stick to your routine better and lower the risk of fatigue, injuries, and sore muscles.
Commit enough time in changing your routine and include speed bursts or acceleration. Cycling this way can help enhance how many calories you burn in one session. As you continue familiarizing yourself with riding, you need to learn basic tricks for smooth cycling. Remember, your aim is to be fit or stay fit. If you don’t enjoy the bicycle rides, you may end up demotivated and quit after a while.
Always slow down when you approach a bend and position the inside pedal at 12 o’clock. This ensures that you don’t scrape along the road with the pedal. On stopping your bicycle, practice using your brakes correctly. The front brakes happen to be more powerful than the rear. Use the front tightly along with your rear brakes.
6. Make The Most Out Of Your Gear
Your cycling gear make it easier for you to ride. If you notice you’re pedaling fast without feeling any resistance, move to a harder gear. It will help you build up speed. Besides, resistance is an excellent way to build muscle strength while pedaling helps you strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Similarly, it works your core muscles, glutes, and back.
7. Staying On Track
Aiming to get fit is an excellent health goal. However, you might lose motivation along the way. So, the best way to keep yourself on track is by setting small target goals along the way. A good way to start is by signing up for a competition, participating in a charity ride, or anything that will help you stay focus and achieve your fitness goal. If you don’t feel ready to be in a race, challenge yourself by either increasing your speed every week or accomplishing longer routes.
Another way of staying on track is by joining other cyclists. If you look up club riders and bike groups in your area, you may find other beginner and pro cyclists to motivate you. You may be able to get motivation and fitness advice from these people. Join group activities fashioned for beginners so you can move at the same pace.
Don’t forget to plan for days when cycling outside is impossible because of the weather or other factors. Have a plan for indoor workout routines so that you can keep the momentum, even if you can’t go outside.
Maintenance Tips For Your Bike
Like any other vehicle, your bike also needs to be repaired and kept in good condition from time to time. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated or costly as maintaining a four-wheeled vehicle. As a beginner, you just have to know the following:
• Know Who To Call In Case Of A Flat Tire: You don’t want to be stranded in a lonely path and drag your bicycle back. Seek help from other cyclists or a bicycle maintenance shop in your local area. Better save their numbers on your phone so you can ask for help at any time.
• Keep Your Bike Clean: Cleaning your bike regularly is vital to give it a longer life. Along with cleaning actual dirt off the bike, it needs greasing and lubrication every other week. It’s essential to keep the bike dry after cleaning or cycling to prevent its components from rusting.
• Always Check The Air, Brakes, and Chain: These are the cyclist’s ABCs. Always check tire pressure. Ensure that the brakes are working before you start your ride. Keep the chain clean and lubricated. As you check the three, spin the pedals to ensure they’re in good shape as well.
Cycling is an excellent cardiovascular exercise. It helps you burn calories and strengthens your leg muscles. You can intensify the routine as you get used to cycling and create challenges and goals for yourself to meet. Aside from that, you can meet like-minded people when you join local bikers and cyclist groups in your area!