You’ve probably seen people riding bikes..
It would fair to guess you thought to yourself “that is so simple”.
And it does, it looks easy.
And it is easy to learn.
But where do you start?
How do you start riding a bike?
Do you need to wear a full suit, spandex and gloves and all, or do you just need a helmet?
If you don’t already lead an active lifestyle, you might find biking more difficult as you need to pedal enough to get you to a reasonable speed or you’d have a hard time balancing the bicycle.
The good news is that everyone starts as a beginner.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or 60 years old.
The bad news is that it doesn’t get easier if you want to get faster.
After all the research and experience I’ve done, I’ve compiled a guide for you to take advantage of so you can go from beginner to a well equipped rider.
Before you can start your training plan, you need to get your foundation down.
Here’s how you should start…
Find Your Riding Purpose
Most people overlook this step.
However if you don’t know what type of rider you’re going to be, you might end up investing in a bike that is meant to be used on roads rather than rough terrains.
You would end up either damaging the bike or possibly injuring yourself.
No matter how old you are, you can choose any of the riders as long as your doctor gives you approval to do any physical activity (even if you’re 60!).
Here are the 5 types of riders:
- Mountain biker: If you are into outdoor adventures and love riding throughout the mountains and rough terrains, then you are a mountain biker.
- Roadie: If you fancy driving on roads with cars or a hill, then you are a roadie. There are various types of road bikes, so choose one according to your preferences.
- Track racing: If you’re a fan of bike racing on well-built tracks or velodromes, then track racing is something you might enjoy.
- Triathlete: If you love the freedom of riding alone and competitively then chances are, you want to be a triathlete.
- Casual riders: You don’t have a specific goal and you need to walk out and jump on your bike for a casual ride then consider yourself a casual rider.
First choose the type of bike you want to have, then you can decide on which bike suits you the best.
Get A Bike
The next step is buying the bike you will feel comfortable riding.
Here’s one mistake everyone beginners make:
Buy the most fanciest-looking bike which ends up being a type of mountain bike.
Most beginners buy mountain as their first bike.
The problem is mountain bikes are mostly heavy and slow.
They are best for trail riding on a mountain or hill.
Most beginners are riding in the city or on smooth terrains.
You will need something that’s light.
Buying a bike online can a bit cheaper than buying from a local store.
But the disadvantage of that is you won’t get to try it out until it is delivered to you.
You’ll need to go to a local shop, especially if it’s your first bike.
Chances are they will offer some after-sales service to help maintain your bike for a period of time.
I know how tough it can be deciding on the kind of bike you want to buy and the best place to start is from our guides.
Buying the bike is not the only investment you will make.
You should also invest in high-quality clothing and gear.
Here are some of the essential items you should get.
- Padded cycling short: Cycling short will help you feel more comfortable in the saddle.
- Helmet: A helmet can potentially save your life as it protects your head from impacts (i.e. you fall or a car hits you)— they can range in prices but most of them are certified to be protective.
- Cycling glasses: Glasses protect your eyes from bugs, pepples, sun, rain, and any other random flying objects that can be in your path.
- U-lock: You need to have U-lock to reduce the risk of possible theft.
- Clippy shoes: Clippy shoes are optional but if you want to be a serious rider then shoes designed for cycling will help you pedal faster.
The Cycling Plan For Beginners
Riding a bike doesn’t come easy for most people.
It’s even worse if it’s your first time.
Some people give up way too easily on it as they fail.
However, you must fail in order to succeed.
For example, one big challenge is balance.
You have to learn and adapt to adjusting your posture to maintain your balance.
Here are a few pointers that will help you:
- Use both brakes to if you find yourself losing traction on the road.
- Practice using the front brakes so you lose the fear of flipping forward when braking too hard.
- Clippy shoes increases grip and power for you to pedal more efficiently.
- Use lower gear if you find it hard to pedal and increase gear if you find it too easy.
- Watch out for parked cars as the doors might open without warning. Keep your distance and don’t ride closely to parked cars.
- If you’re on the older side, like 60 or older, then have someone with you to watch over you in case you need assistance.
Turn Cycling Into Fun
What’s the best way to make anything more enjoyable?
Have your friends join you!
Find friends who ride and ride with them.
This makes it easier to bike as it keeps your mind off the actual exercise as it turns into a fun activity.
You’ll be less likely to skip out on a day of cycling if you have friends to hold you accountable.
A lot of cities have cycling groups where people meet for rides.
If you don’t know any bike groups, you can ask your local shop.
Or you can go to meetup.com to find people who ride together.
Most beginning cyclists are intimidated of joining groups.
But the same groups of people usually have the same fear before joining so there’s nothing to worry about.
That said, every group has its own rules and etiquette you need to follow.
First thing you do is let them know you’re a beginner.
They will assist you in any way that they can to make your experience much more memorable and safe.
Not only that, but they’ll appreciate your honesty and provide instructions and answers on anything you’re struggling with.
One thing you could do is pay attention to the experienced cyclists, and if you have a question, always ask as they love riding, and they probably love talking about it.
If you are not confident in your bike riding skills, try to follow the lead of the group by being behind them.
The group will always ride with the most experienced cyclists leading the pack.
There’s usually no pressure when riding with a group and to reduce air resistance, you can try tucking into your bike but only if you feel like you’ve learned to ride without losing balance.
Maintaining Your Bike
Unpredictable things do happen when you are out and riding.
The best you can do is prepare for them so you’re not stuck in the middle of your route without a plan B.
Here are some of the things that can help you when these situations arise:
Fixing a puncture.
This is a fairly straightforward procedure if you have a bike tire repair kit with you.
If you hear a hissing sound from your tires, you should try to fix it before it gets worse.
You can always go to a nearby bike (or car) shop to get it fixed.
Check your tire pressure.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
You also need to have a floor pump with you so that when you run out of pressure, you can easily fill up and continue riding.
Clean and oil the chain.
This is a task you should perform regularly, at least weekly or monthly depending on the weather.
Doing so eliminates dreaded ‘creaks’ and also prevents your chains from wear and tear.
Follow Bike Etiquette
Once you get the hang of riding the bike, it’s only fair you understand the bike rules and etiquette.
That way, you won’t be on the wrong side of the law.
Bike rules are confusing and misunderstood even from experienced riders themselves.
Here are some guidelines you need to stick to:
- Follow car rules:
- If you’re riding in the city, it’s best to follow the directions of traffic, stop at appropriate signs and lights. And most importantly yield to pedestrians.
- Be visible:
- Wear clothing gear that makes you visible to other motorists on the road. You also need to have enough bike lights when riding during the night.
- Learn to ride on uneven roads:
- Always maintain a straight line on the road and sudden turns or movements as you should be predictable to other motorists to reduce the risk of accidents. You might encounter potholes on roads, never panic, if you can slow down and check if you can safely go around them.
- Perform a standard safety check:
- A two-minute check on your bike can potentially save you a lot of time and possibly damage / injuries. Checks on your brakes, tires, and gears. If you’re not sure, ask your local bike shop for guidance.
The Beginners Training Plan For Cycling
It’s true that you need a little bit of fitness to cycle.
If you want to ride for more than 10 minutes without feeling sick, then you’d be wise to do a bit of cardiovascular / resistance training for a few weeks.
And no you don’t need a gym membership to exercise.
A simple brisk walk with bodyweight exercises will make a huge difference.
Try this training plan at least 3-5 times per week:
- Mobility (arm and leg swings for 30 seconds on each limb)
- Push ups (as many as you can)
- Pull ups (as many as you can)
- Squats (or sit and get up from a chair, as many times as you can)
- Jumping jacks (as many as you can)
- Skip rope or walk (as quickly as you can for 5-10 minutes)
If you can do this routine for 20-30 minutes per day, 3-5 times per week, then you will find yourself more mentally and physically fit for any sport!
However if you feel pain from any of these exercises, skip it.
This training plan will help you make the most out of your beginning stages of cycling.
Are You Ready To Pedal?
The start is always the hardest.
And it doesn’t get easier if you want to get faster.
But once you get over that learning curve, you’ll love the challenges that’s to come.
It’s a lifelong journey that can begin at any age.
The best part is you’ll be more physically and mentally fit.
You’ll also likely meet great people along the way.
You’ll always be looking forward to new routes and rides.
All you need to do now is ask yourself what kind of rider are you and what’s stopping you from starting?
What are you waiting for…
There’s a new adventure waiting for you once you get on that bike.