So you’ve finally discovered how great road cycling is and you want get started in the saddle; Here are 10 great tips to help get you started:
- Get the right Equipment!
Before you set off, it’s important to get the right equipment to keep you safe and comfortable.
First of all it’s important to invest in a good helmet that fits correctly. Head injuries cause the most cycling related deaths; most of which can be avoided through wearing a helmet. A good helmet is probably one of the most important pieces of safety equipment, so invest well.
Get your bike properly fitted; it will make riding much easier, more efficient and cause you much less pain and soreness during and after the ride.
Think carefully about the saddle you put on your bike. The right saddle can make a huge difference to your ride. Thick padding does not necessarily mean comfort, long saddles with cut-outs tend to be the best but try a few and see what’s right for you.
- Buy a Repair Kit.
This is one of the most invaluable things you can buy. Basic equipment for this kit will include; a spare tube, a pump and/or CO2 inflator, a patch kit, and a multi-tool. Set off equipped with all of these and you should be prepared for almost any situation.
- Now you have your repair kit, you need to learn how to use it.
You don’t need to wait until you’re on the road to practice how to change a flat. Practice in the comfort of your own home, this way if it happens when you’re far away from home you’ll be less worried.
- Help out those in need.
It’s common practice (and courteous) to help out other cyclists in need, so if you see a fellow cyclist stuck on the road with a flat, help them out if you can, after all more friends on the road can never be a bad thing.
- Join a Club.
This is one of the best ways to get the most out of cycling, and anyone at any level can join in. Clubs are where most professionals started out and are vital to the sport of cycling. There is no better way to learn than with other likeminded people. There will almost certainly be a cycling group near you and it’ll be a great way to gain experience while making new friends.
- The Pre-ride Checklist.
Looking after your bike will prolong its life (saving you money) and help you get the most out of it. You don’t need to be an expert mechanic to do this, just do basic maintenance before every ride;
- Know The Cycling Etiquette.
This is especially important if you are planning to go on group rides. There are a lot of little things you will pick up while on the roads, but here is a basic list to get your started:
• Pointing out potholes and other objects in the road for the person behind.
• Indicate with your hand to people behind when the group ahead is slowing.
• Do not make abrupt and unannounced speed or direction changes.
• Never overlap wheels unless your handlebars are even with their thigh and they can see you.
• If you get a flat in the middle of the pack, raise your hand, yell out “flat”, and hold your line until everyone has passed.
• When standing out of the saddle, always pedal while simultaneously standing up to avoid a lag in momentum which can lead to the rider behind crashing into you.
• If you are in a fast group and don’t have the energy to pull the other riders, stay at the back out of the rotation.
- Get comfortable with cars.
You have to share the road with other vehicles; most of which are cars; and not all drivers are as courteous towards cyclists as they should be. If a driver comes too close stay calm and maintain control over the bike, don’t get angry or wave vulgar signals, it’s better to be friends with car drivers than enemies.
- Keep a bottle of water handy
Also carry some spare cash and a phone in case of an emergency. It’s extremely important to stay properly hydrated out on the roads, so be sure to have a bottle of water on you at all times. It is also useful to carry some cash and a phone, in case you get stuck somewhere and need to call a friend or a taxi.
- Last but not least; Mix it up!
Don’t ride the same route every day or you’ll definitely get bored. Try to ride different routes; if you’re taking up cycling to work, don’t ride the same way you drive, there’s sure to be a quieter, more scenic route you can take (that’ll most likely be quicker too). There are plenty of ways to check online for alternative routes, or go and explore when you have some free time.
• WHEELS: They should spin straight and not rub the brakes. Make sure your tires have plenty of tread and no cuts or large nicks, and that they are properly inflated.
• CHAIN: Too much lube will attract dirt and grime, which wears out your drivetrain. A good test is to wipe your finger on your chain. It should come away with just a small amount of oil.
• COCKPIT: Check your headset by grabbing the front brake and rocking the handlebar back and forth. If you feel movement in your headset, loosen the stem’s clamp bolts and tighten the top cap until there is no more movement. Don’t forget to retighten the stem bolts before you ride.
• GEARS: Again, keep them clean and lubricated and they will last well. Once your gears dry out and are left exposed to corrosive elements that come from the road, they will cease to function and eventually fail.
It’s worth noting that if you are ever in doubt about how to maintain your bike, take it to a bike shop to avoid some potentially expensive mistakes.