Starting a new activity is often a little, or a lot, intimidating. If youíre an adult whoís just getting into cycling, you may be intimidated by the plethora of information and hype about types of bikes, clothing, helmets, culture, and more. Whether you want to ride for fitness, to tour or to race, there is no reason you shouldnít go for it, no matter what your age or ability. These few tips should help to get you out and pedaling.
Buy a bike that fits you. Donít borrow your spouseís/friendís/neighborís bike just because he has an extra. Go to a bike shop and have them help you figure out the right size bicycle to fit your body. Not all bikes are the same, just as not all of our bodies are the same. If you have a bike that fits you properly youíll be more comfortable, experience fewer joint problems (especially knees), and be more likely to keep on riding.
Wear a helmet. I have to say it again Ė wear a helmet! Your brain is your most precious asset and you canít live without it. It doesnít matter if your hair gets mussed or you look like a dork. Protect your brain and wear a helmet! While youíre at the bike shop getting your bike, pick out a helmet and have the shop staff help you fit it to your head. It wonít protect you as well if itís too loose.
Learn the cycling rules of the road. Unlike when youíre walking, when youíre riding your bike you are another vehicle on the road. You need to ride in the same direction as traffic, use hand signals before turning, and follow standard traffic regulations. If youíre not sure what proper bike etiquette is, ask.
Find a cycling buddy. No matter the activity, weíre all more inclined to keep getting out there if we have someone to do it with. If you donít already know someone who rides, check out a local bike club or post a notice at a local bike shop. Ask around and you might make a new friend.
Ride regularly for at least a month. Our bodies take time to adjust to any new activity, and cycling is no different. Every spring my knees give me a little grief and I have to take a couple of weeks to get them back in shape. Additionally, common knowledge says that it takes three weeks to develop a new habit. Ride at least two to three times a week for a month and soon youíll realize you miss it when you donít get to ride. However, while you can expect some discomfort if your muscles aren't used to the work, you shouldn't be in pain. Use common sense and rest when you need to.
Wear comfortable clothes. You donít have to deck yourself out in spandex to ride, but you will find it more comfortable to keep riding if you wear appropriate clothing. Padded bike shorts may look silly, but they make sitting on the bike seat much more comfortable. If you donít like the way they look, put a pair of looser shorts or pants over them. Make sure your pant legs arenít so loose that theyíll get caught in the bikeís chain. Padded bike gloves make holding the handle bars for long periods of time more comfortable. Shoes with stiff soles make pedaling more efficient and give each stroke more power. There are stores and websites that cater to cyclists of all shapes and sizes.
Do whatever it takes to motivate yourself and start pedaling! Youíll get to experience the feel of flying down the road into a better life.
Ride safe and have fun!