What Every New Cyclist Needs to Know
Whether the cycling bug is biting you in anticipation of July’s Tour de France, or you’re ready to increase the speed on your casual evening ride, we want you to better understand the sport of cycling so you can be prepared to ride well and get the most out of it.
The Right Gear
If you’re a commuter cyclist, a mountain biker, a speed cyclist, or even a stationary spinner, there is a different bike for each use. Be sure to visit a local bike shop, which is best suited to help you find the right bike for your goals. And just like shoes, you’ll want to try a few on for size to ensure the bike is the right fit for your gender, stature, and usage.
You’ll also need to make sure to have a quality helmet to protect your head from any falls that may occur; many cyclists can attest to the life-or-death difference this small wardrobe addition can make.
A water bottle is key to keep you hydrated, especially on longer, more challenging rides. For longer rides, consider a water backpack, which can be used hands-free and hold up to two liters of water. Of course, spending that much time outside you’ll want to use sunblock with a high SPF and wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Also, if you live in an urban area where a spacious two- or three-car garage isn’t available for parking your two-wheeled ride, learn how to make your home more bicycle friendly.
The Right Start
If you’re new to cycling, ease in to the sport just like you would any other new fitness challenge. Start with short manageable distances and work your way to longer distances as your endurance, strength, and even confidence increases.
Use an app like MapMyRide, which uses your smart phone’s GPS capabilities to track your ride. At the end of each ride, review your distance, time, the map, and make notes about what worked and what didn’t so you can make the next experience a better one.
Join a local cycling club or group no matter how experienced you are. Being a part of a group with a shared interest can make you more accountable, challenge you more, not to mention make the experience more enjoyable. They can also offer tips and guidance to newcomers, and introduce you to trails and events you might not have otherwise known about.
The Right Training
Before any workout, whether on a bike or at the weight machine, be sure to eat and hydrate properly. At least an hour before your ride, eat a small snack containing quality protein and carbohydrate (think cheese stick and apple slices). Also, drink plenty of water before, during, and after your ride; and be sure to finish your ride with a small post-workout snack, too.
Cycling requires a great deal of lower- and upper-body strength and endurance. You’ll use your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to power the bicycle. The chest, back, triceps, and core will be called upon to maintain bicycle control and proper posture. The following workout is designed to strengthen the key muscle areas you’ll use while cycling. Cycling alone is great for cardio, but you’ll need to build muscle strength and endurance if you’re going to maintain your riding endurance and ability.
Each movement is designed to help improve your cycling performance. Try performing three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions with a medium to heavy weight. If you’re not familiar with these movements, ask a personal trainer or fitness professional to help get you started.
- Leg Press
- Leg Machine Extension
- Alternating Dumbbell Step Up on Bench
- Elbow Plank
- Tricep Pressdown with V Bar
- Seated Cable Row