Beginner’s Guide to Cycling

A couple weeks ago I posted my Beginner’s Guide to Running, which turned out to be pretty popular. Today I present my Beginner’s Guide to Cycling, which I hope is just as useful.

I’d like to note that I’m not nearly as qualified to write this guide as I was to write the running guide. I’m a very early beginner in cycling, and what I’m posting here is just the basics, from what I’ve learned from my research (websites, books, and talking to experts) and from my limited experiences so far. I basically just want to share what I’ve learned so far, so that it might help others who want to get started.

Also, I’d like to note that this guide applies only to road cycling, not mountain biking, as I haven’t hit the trails yet. Last, please add to this guide with your own tips and experiences in the comments!

Two Most Important Tips
There are a lot of important tips here in this guide, and in the links I provided, but here are the most important two.

Start slow. There’s no need to kill yourself when you start. Even if you’re already in good shape, cycling uses different muscles than other exercises, and your body will need time to get used to the new types of stress. Start out nice and easy, enjoy yourself, and progress gradually. Just do 2-3 miles at first, and do them nice and slow. Have fun!
Be safe. More than most sports, cycling can be very dangerous, especially if you’re on the roads with all the crazy drivers out there. In my area, two cyclists were hit in recent months (one died), so I take extra precautions. Ride during the daylight hours, follow traffic laws, always yield the right of way, wear bright colors and reflectors, wear a helmet. More safety tips below.

The Bike
What’s the best bike to get for cycling? Heck if I know. I’m just a beginner. I suggest that you start with any old bike you can get your hands on. Really. If you’ve got one in your garage, or you know someone who has one that’s not being used, just spray some WD-40 on the rusty parts, inflate the tire and make sure there are no leaks, and give it a go. You don’t need anything fancy to start with.

The really nice bikes are optimal, of course, but they are also well over $1,000 (some are well over twice that), and they aren’t necessary to get into the sport and enjoy it. Once you get into it, and are sure you’ll be doing it for the long term, look into a better bike.

The nice road bikes are lighter, with strong frames, thin tires (for less friction), with a whole host of other nice features to make riding fast and easy. However, I use an old mountain bike, and I still love riding.

What’s most important is that the bike fits you. The bike should fit your height (from ground to crotch), as well as the distance from the seat to the handle. I’m not an expert at this — it’s best to go to a good bike shop to get fitted.

Read the rest here.

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