Cycling tips: Essential riding advice for beginners

Cycling tips: Essential riding advice for beginners

Many people have started riding a bike since the start of lockdown. Cycling might seem a little daunting if you don’t cycle regularly but with a little experience and advice, new riders will quickly feel content out on a bike ride. Here are some helpful tips to set you on the road to a successful cycling life.

If you’re new to cycling—whether it was a goal in 2020 or it became a great source of exercise during the COVID-19 era: Congrats!

There are so many amazing adventures in store for you. But we also understand that cycling can feel really overwhelming at first. On top of knowing the basic rules of the road, it can seem like there’s a whole set of unwritten rules out there as well. Can you wear low socks? Do your water bottles need to match?

Well, we’re here to say: Forget the rules. Riding bikes should be fun, and in order for you to have the most fun out there, we rounded up the best beginner cycling tips to help you get rolling. These aren’t rules; they’re just suggestions and simple fixes that’ll make riding more safe and enjoyable.

Before you go for a bike ride

Pump your tyres to the right pressure

Possibly the simplest aspect of bike maintenance is having your tyres pumped to the right pressure. What is the right pressure? That’s simple, too – it’s written on the sidewall of your tyres, just take a look. You’ll notice the tyre manufacture has a recommended range rather than one absolute pressure. That’s so you can adjust the tyre pressures according to the conditions. If you’re going somewhere that might be damp and slippy, don’t pump your tyres up too hard. If it’s dry and you want to ride as efficiently as possible fill them up.

Get your saddle height and riding position just right

Saddles that are too low make it hard to use your full pedalling range and leg power; saddles that are too high have you straining and can lead to injury. Ideally, you need your saddle height set so there is a very slight kink at your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Then get your position on the bike right, too. A very simple rule of thumb is, when in your typical riding posture you want the handlebar obscuring your view of the front wheel hub. Cycling isn’t supposed to be painful, so if you find you’re starting to develop backache or any other ailment, pop to your local bike shop to see if they can help adjust your position.

Dress for the conditions

‘There’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes,’ so the old cycling adage goes and, most of the time, that’s quite true. Weather can change quickly so discover the art of layering your clothes so you can take cool down or warm up quickly. What to cycle in when it is cold or in the heat of summer can be a bit trickier.

What to take on a bike ride

Take water and food

There’s no worse feeling on a bike than dehydration or complete energy depletion, so take fluid and some ride rations with you. Snacks like a banana, flapjack or jelly babies (for a quick burst of sugar) will help refuel you.
If you are going far, scientifically formulated products such as electrolyte drinks and protein bars can help you avoid cramp or other mid-ride problems, and maximise the benefit of all your efforts.

Padded shorts

New cyclists often think they need huge padded saddles to protect their posterior but that’s really not the case. A good pair of padded cycling shorts will give you enough comfort to survive initial rides, and you can build up time and distance as your tolerance allows. There’s no need to wear underwear underneath padded shorts, as they may rub and give you saddle sores.

Cycling gloves and mitts

One thing new riders often don’t think about, though, is their hands. These can fatigue quite quickly, so a good pair of padded gloves or mitts will do wonders.

Take a lock and lights (just in case)

Even if you only plan to pop out for an hour or two, if there’s any chance you might be delayed beyond dusk, have a set of lights fitted to your bike. By the same token, carrying a lock comes in handy for any unplanned corner-shop visits or even café stops. Never believe your bike is safe, even if you leave it unattended for just a moment.

Have a saddlepack with tools, spares and cash

A few choice tools and a spare inner tube in a saddlepack or saddlebag will help you cope with common mid-ride problems. A multi-tool with a range of bits should let you adjust most mechanical components; a chain tool will help you put a broken chain back together; and of course you’ll need some tyre levers, puncture repair kit/spare inner tube and mini-pump. We think it’s handy to have some emergency cash and a card too.

Where to go on a bike ride

Start small and build up the distance you can cycle

For your first bike ride a great place to build your confidence is a traffic-free trail or park. If you haven’t cycled in a long time aim to cover around 5 miles and then build up your distance, so that you don’t over do it. Little and often is the best way to increase strength and confidence.

Find some ride buddies

Cycling alone is great – it lets you clear you head, enjoy some solitude and take in the beauty of the world without distractions. But riding with people is great fun too and having some cycling buddies will help all aspects of your cycling develop much more quickly. Your local cycling group may have rides for beginners or join one of our Community Cycling Clubs.

Map it out

It’s great to head out on the open road or trail and see where the day takes you but it’s also rewarding to have a ride challenge set out in advance. Online mapping will help you plan out an awesome route for the ride ahead (or find your way back home once you’re lost in the wilds). Our journey planner, routes and cycling area guides should also help.

Blog Source – Cycling UK

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