Beginners Blog - Part 1 (Tips for getting into Cycling)
Thinking about buying your first Road Bike?
Here's Part 1 of our Beginners guide to cycling
Table of Contents
- An Introduction to Cycling >
- Why get into Cycling? >
- What you'll need >
- Gear & Clothing >
- Distance & Routes >
- Solo or Group? >
- Repairs & Emergencies >
- Are you prepared for your first ride? >
An Introduction to Cycling
Taking that first step into anything new is never easy but once we make the bold move to start new things and follow through then we don’t often look back. It’s understandable that taking up cycling and buying a new and expensive Road Bike might feel like a life changing decision. For many it is! There is definitely a lot to consider when getting into cycling and it can be easy to overthink things but cycling and the enjoyment of cycling is simple. The bike is merely the key to adventures that you’ll unlock.
We have put this blog together using our own experiences and based on the questions that we are commonly asked by ‘beginner cyclists’ to give some direction on where to begin when getting into cycling.
Why get into Cycling?
There are plenty of good reasons to start riding more frequently. Getting fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the obvious reasons but it’s also well documented that cycling promotes positive mental health and reduces anxiety that can lead to depression (Science Direct).
Escaping the city and getting into the countryside can be the perfect therapy after a busy and stress-filled week. The fresh air and scenery is often enough to help me refresh and mentally prepare for the week ahead.
For many, riding solo is the only chance of ‘me’ time. A quiet ride alone can help you process your thoughts and reach a state of calmness. For others, the camaraderie of a group ride adds a new social element helping you make new friends and relationships.
Whether you prefer solo rides or group rides, getting off the well-beaten paths through cycling will provide a new sense of adventure and an unrivalled sense of freedom.
What you’ll need?
Apart from the obvious - a bike, there is a fair amount of gear that will make cycling long distances both more comfortable and safer. There is no rush to run out and buy everything in one go and even before you go out and buy a brand new Road Bike and commit yourself to becoming a ‘cyclist’ it’s a good idea to get a feel for both cycling longer distances and riding a Road Bike.
Cycle exhibitions and reputable bike shops can provide a lot of useful insight into purchasing a new Road Bike. However, while exhibitions and bike shops provide some opportunity to test ride a Road Bike, the distance is often short with the conditions and terrain generally smooth. There is a big difference between riding around the block to test ride a bike and riding a minimum of 20 kilometres with hill climbs and headwinds to really experience cycling.
If you are a beginner and have never ridden a Road Bike before then a longer distance ride will give you more chance to get used to riding a Road Bike and gauge more seriously if you do want to spend money on buying a new Sports Bike.
We recommend renting a Road Bike and trying a few different sizes and brands before you buy one. This gives you a chance the chance to take a bike out for a day, get used to riding a Road Bike with drop down handlebars and experience ‘real’ cycling.
Gear & Clothing
As mentioned there is no need to go out and buy everything straight away but we do recommend buying the following before your first ride to make those first few rides safer and more comfortable.
- A Helmet
- A bottle cage
- Saddle Bag
- Puncture Kit or Spare tube (Recommended)
- Tire levers
- Cycle Gloves
If you are buying a brand new bike, then some shops might have a deal that includes some of the above when buying a new bike. If not then I recommend trying to negotiate to get a few freebies.
If you are planning to ride at night then you should add lights to that list. However, most new bikes usually come with Reflectors included.
Over time and as you ride more, you may want to add the following items.
- Clipless Pedals + Shoes
- Cycling Sunglasses.
- Train bag
- Cycle Computer
- Air Pump (Pre-ride)
While it is quite fashionable these days to be wearing top of the range cycling clothing, again it is not really necessary to buy everything at the time of buying your bike. However, I would recommend the following items be a priority.
- Padded shorts or underwear
- Cycling Cap
- Wind jacket.
You might not feel ready to buy a bright and full lycra bib kit so the Padded Shorts or underwear make for a great alternative and provide some extra comfort as your rides begin to increase in distance.
Let it be known that cyclists aren't trying to look cool in their sunglasses (Well-maybe just a little bit). The main reason to buy a decent pair of sunglasses is to protect the eyes. Sunglasses are a major piece of safety equipment for cyclists. Protecting the eyes from exposure to the sun, wind and rain is a must for maintaining healthy eyes and body, not to mention preventing stones and insects from entering and causing discomfort.
Whether or not you buy a helmet straight away, it is still highly recommended to buy a Cycling Cap. A cycling cap will protect your head from exposure to the sun and on colder days help reduce heat escaping, keeping you a little bit warmer and comfortable.
A good set of cycling gloves not only helps reduce the impact of bumps in the road but also helps prevent slippage especially when hands get sweaty.
Regulating your body heat is essential to making the ride as comfortable as possible so purchasing a roll up wind/rain jacket is always a good idea.
The luminous pink lycra bibs can come later! Joking aside, breathable and aerodynamic lycra does make longer rides more comfortable so eventually, so I would recommend the investment.
And if you plan to ride in Winter here are some extra bits of kit that make riding in the cold more comfortable:
- Winter socks
- Toe Caps or Booties.
- Leg and Arm Warmers
- Neck Warmer
- Winter Hat / Gloves
Distance & Terrain
Before you jump on your bike and ride into the unknown, it’s good to set goals but equally it’s important to know your limits. If you haven’t ridden a bike in a long time or only ride short distances around town then starting with a short and flat ride (15 to 20kms) is a good starting point to gauge your fitness and confidence on a Road Bike. If you feel you can ride a bit further than 20kms on your first ride then increase the distance but do bear in mind that elevation and wind direction can greatly impact your energy levels and ability to ride as far as may plan. Instead, we recommend increasing your stamina by gradually increasing your distance and elevation with each ride.
Quite simply, don’t bite off more than you can chew!
Where to ride?
You may already have a good idea of local routes but if not then many cycle shops have maps and recommended route information available, so do ask when you visit.
Another great source are the numerous cycling applications that are available to download. We generally recommend Strava because there is a growing number of local cyclists who regularly upload their rides and the route planner is very useful. It’s also easy to find local clubs and groups if you would like to meet fellow cyclists.
Solo or group rode?
Whether you develop a preference for riding solo in time, it’s a good idea during those first few rides to ride either in a group or at least with a buddy. That way, if there are any emergencies or malfunctions then your friend or group members can assist. Feel free to join our club on Strava and join us on our regular club rides.
Unfortunately, even with brand new bikes, things can go wrong. The most common issue that new cyclists have to deal with are punctures on the roadside. If you have never fixed a puncture or removed a tire before then it’s a good idea to learn quickly. Why not try practicing before your first big ride? There are plenty of Youtube videos on fixing tubes and basic emergency repairs available to learn from.
Are you prepared for your first ride?
We hope the above gives those looking at getting into cycling a little bit of direction without going into huge detail. We will look more into buying a bike, brands & components; and apps in future blogs and videos so please keep an eye out.
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One last question, what scenery is waiting for you ahead of your first cycling adventure?