Six Tips for a New Cyclist
Buy a bike that fits you. Don’t borrow your spouse’s/friend’s/neighbor’s 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 you’ll 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 – wear a helmet! Your brain is your most precious asset and you can’t live without it. It doesn’t matter if your hair gets mussed or you look like a dork. Protect your brain and wear a helmet! While you’re at the bike shop getting your bike, pick out a helmet and have the shop staff help you fit it to your head. It won’t protect you as well if it’s too loose.
Learn the cycling rules of the road. Unlike when you’re walking, when you’re 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 you’re not sure what proper bike etiquette is, ask.
Find a cycling buddy. No matter the activity, we’re all more inclined to keep getting out there if we have someone to do it with. If you don’t 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 you’ll realize you miss it when you don’t 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 don’t 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 don’t like the way they look, put a pair of looser shorts or pants over them. Make sure your pant legs aren’t so loose that they’ll get caught in the bike’s 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! You’ll get to experience the feel of flying down the road into a better life.
Ride safe and have fun!
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