For those who are not cyclists, or may be new to the sport, cycling can seem intimidating. Most of us see those cyclists on the road, decked out in tight clothing, riding the fancy bikes blowing down the road with seeming ease. Indeed, they are very much out there, and heck, I get blow past by those people quite often!
Perhaps the type of gear and accessories one thinks they may need to be good at the sport is another intimidation factor. Whatever you may feel is intimidating regarding cycling, it does not need to be. Cycling for beginners can be a different experience from those who are seasoned, but the experience you get as a beginning cyclist lays down the foundations for future success on the bike.
Cycling for Beginners – Don’t Stress So Soon
If you are someone who is new to cycling, welcome! Like most new ventures we embark upon, there is an element of excitement, and sometimes adventure. Cycling is no different. You can have an expensive bicycle, or one purchased at a retail store, but if your desire is to become a good cyclist, there’s no doubt a degree of excitement you have for riding these machines of two wheels!
Cycling for beginners can seem difficult, and in honesty, it is. You may see other riders on the road or trail, or join a cycling club and feel you’re unable to keep up with everyone else. It is important to go easy on yourself, and work your way up. Here are some ways to do it.
- Start small. Don’t jump in right away into a 50-mile charity ride. Start with short, quick rides, and proceed to add distance and speed to them gradually.
- Know your limits. It is always good to be aware of how you’re physically feeling. Always listen to your body. Take breaks as you ride, cut rides short, or even call someone to pick you up if you have to. Definitely do not push yourself on the bike. Know your limits, especially when just starting out.
- Try to find others. This can be difficult, but try to look for riding partners who will be willing to ride with you. Riding with a partner is beneficial, for the other person can be encouraging, and provide tips. Also, look for cycling groups in your area that have leisure and/or social rides. These rides are usually ridden at slower paces and over shorter distances.
- Consistency. Try to have a goal of how many days you’re riding a week, and stick with it. Of course, things come up that may cause you to lose a day or two of riding, but you definitely want to try to stick to whatever goal you may set for yourself.
If you keep the above suggestions in mind, you’ll find you will increase distance and speed quicker than you realize.
You Don’t Need to Break the Bank
Let’s be honest. There is a cost to entry to cycling. Besides the bicycle, you’ll need to purchase equipment such as helmets, gloves, and other gear and accessories. While sometimes it is better to pay the extra cash for a good helmet for example, you do not need to pay premium pricing for everything. If you are budget conscious, you should be able to find retailers that sell cycling gear at reasonable prices, especially catalog and online. Here are a few gear and accessory suggestions that won’t set your wallet back.
- Gloves. There are so many brands that sell gloves out on the market, with various price ranges. From personal experience, I’ve found gloves I paid $10 – $20 for sometimes lasted longer than ones I paid at least $40.
- Water bottles. Not only is this a necessary accessory, you can find them at inexpensive prices for basic bottles.
- Saddle bags. Small capacity saddle bags are great for storing a cell phone, some cash, a spare tube, and tools like tire levers. A small bag that can fit under the bike saddle won’t set you back
- Bicycle computer. Want to keep track of how you are riding? A bicycle computer is your friend here. There is a wide range of computers on the market, but there are inexpensive ones that can track basic stats such as ride distance, average speed, and cadence.
The point of the list is to show you that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money, and there are less expensive options you can go with that would work great for you as a beginning cyclist.
What to Wear
You may see cyclists on the road wearing kits (the tight jersey and shorts). These kits are made of high performance materials, and cyclists can use them as a method of self-expression. Some cyclists wear kits of pro teams that ride in the Tour de France. In all honesty, a full kit is not necessary starting out, but that is up to the individual.
I do personally recommend a pair of cycling shorts. Yes, you may feel silly wearing them starting out, but they are made of breathable material, and the tight fit means you won’t experience having them get caught in the saddle when you are trying to swing your leg over it, and less wind drag. They also have padding in the saddle area, providing comfort.
You can also get a cycling jersey. Jerseys have a couple benefits of regular athletic shirts in that they usually have rear pockets to store small things, and have zippers to help keep you cool. Like the shorts, jerseys usually have a tight fit to prevent wind drag. Jerseys are not required, however. I find polyester athletic t-shirts work well, and like the fact they are slightly more loose fitting.
The good thing with jerseys and shorts are that there are many affordable choices on the market, and as mentioned, the choice is up to you regarding what you want to wear starting out. The key thing to keep in mind is you want to wear what works for your starting out. Don’t feel you need to get yourself a full kit, or an expensive kit starting out, which leads to my final point…
You really don’t need to ride consistently at 20 MPH, or go on century (100 mile) bike rides to feel like you are a cyclist. It may be frustrating to be the one who keeps getting passed by other riders, but don’t let that get into your head.
All of us who ride do so for various reasons. Some ride to explore back roads. Others ride to train for competitive and/or long-distance rides, yet others appreciate the stress release riding a bike provides. You are considering, or have decided to take up cycling for your own reason. Embrace it.
The goal of this post is to help alleviate some factors that may prove intimidating to someone new to the sport, especially in relation to actual riding and cost. Those two factors seem to be what come up when people ask me about cycling. While I never encountered someone who felt put off by wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts in a crowd of kit wearers, you never know!
Just remember that cycling is not as intimidating as it seems. Do not feel the need to go big at the start. Keep building on small actions and achievements as you go along, and you will eventually find yourself aiming higher. Always remember why you ride, and keep that motivation whenever you are on the bike. Sometimes that motivation alone is the driving force to break down any intimidation barriers.
Have fun out on the road!