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Home Workouts Saddle Up: A Beginner’s Guide to Cycling

Saddle Up: A Beginner’s Guide to Cycling

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During the lockdown, many people rediscovered cycling as a way to exercise and commute. If you’re thinking about getting back into cycling but haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here are some things to consider when embarking on your cycling journey.

Choosing the Right Bike

Your old BMX bike won’t cut it for your cycling journey. It’s important to choose a bike that suits your needs and the type of cycling you’ll be doing. If speed is your priority for commuting or long rides, consider a lightweight road bike. If you prefer off-road adventures, a mountain bike with good suspension and thick tires is the way to go. Hybrid bikes are a versatile option, suitable for both commuting and occasional off-road excursions. Take the time to do some research and visit a local bike shop for expert advice.

Stay Safe on the Road

First and foremost, wearing a helmet is important for your safety, even if it’s not legally required. Nowadays, there are stylish helmets made from recycled materials that offer both protection and fashion appeal. Invest in lights for your bike, and consider wearing a reflective vest or sash to increase your visibility, especially when riding in traffic. Gloves and cycling glasses are also recommended for added protection and comfort. Learning basic bike maintenance skills will ensure that your bike is always in good condition.

Gear Up Appropriately

You don’t need to splurge on a full Lycra outfit to enjoy cycling. You can ride in your everyday clothes, making sure to avoid loose garments that could get caught in the pedals or chain. Opt for lightweight and comfortable clothing, and consider clothes designed for running if you already have them. If you’re into speed riding, there are specialized clothing and gear available. For commuting, look for cycling gear that transitions well from bike to office, such as helmets that won’t mess up your hair or stylish jackets with reflective properties. There are also shoes and pannier bags that blend function and fashion.

Addressing Discomfort

Starting any new physical activity can lead to some initial aches and pains, and cycling is no exception. You may experience saddle soreness, which can be alleviated by adjusting your saddle position or investing in specialized shorts or underwear. Discomfort in other areas such as the neck, back, hands, feet, and legs can be caused by incorrect bike fit. Seek advice from professionals or experienced cyclists to ensure your bike is properly adjusted.

Choose the Right Routes

When starting out, it’s important to choose sensible routes that suit your skill level. Avoid busy city traffic and opt for rural off-road trails or quieter routes through parks and along rivers. Consider the difficulty of the route as well; for beginners, it’s best to choose easy terrains with low gradients and gradually increase the difficulty as you gain confidence and fitness. Use your early cycling days to explore different routes and find ones that you truly enjoy.

Catherine Bedford is a cycling expert, coach, and founder of dashel.co.uk

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