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Cycling 101

Thinking of trying out a new sport in 2018?  If you’re considering taking biking on for a spin, you’re in luck. Next up in our 101 series is cycling.

Looking to cross-train or add some variety to your training circuit this year? For many folks in the weight training or Cross-Fit world, running seems to be the go-to add-on. For runners, the pool is generally the place to head for zero-impact, full-body training. For every athlete mentioned above, may we suggest: cycling.

You may not have been on a bike in many years or may be apprehensive about the 40, 60 or 80-mile distances, but once you’re on the bike and comfortable with your abilities, you’ll realize you can cycle farther than you can run without feeling the same fatigue and breakdown. Here are some tips to start your cycling career:

  • Equipment – Obviously, you’ll need a bike. Features, functionality, and price vary significantly from bike to bike, so do some research. You can find quality bikes on the lower end of the price range to start with, or go straight to premier options (per this list, at least.) Stop in a bike shop to find the right fit, saddle, and seat/handlebar adjustments. You’ll also need a helmet. Remember that all cycling helmets meet at least the same minimum safety requirement. You don’t have to break the bank and you probably don’t need an aerodynamic helmet to start. Lastly, pick up a bike tool, some extra tubes, a tire patch kit, and a set of LED lights for the front/rear of your bike. These basics will keep you safe and on the road.
  • Get the Basics – You’re sharing the road and have a right to be there… when you’re doing it right! Most cities and parks have bicycle-specific ordinances these days so read up and get road ready. Generally, keep to the right and cycle like you would drive: no swerving or sudden stops and use your signals. As with your current athletic escapades, make sure you stay hydrated and properly fueled to avoid injury or bottoming out. Brake with greater engagement of the front brake, but avoid a firm or sudden grab that sends you summersaulting over the handlebars. Use an easier gear when starting up a hill. Read up a bit on some techniques that will not only make your first cycling experiences easier, but will help you become the cyclist you really want to be!
  • Find Community – It seems a repetitive topic when discussing new athletic pursuits, but learning and training in a group really makes an invaluable difference in engagement and progress. You’ll benefit from the experience and knowledge of those who’ve been at this longer than you. For cycling in particular, not only will you learn helpful techniques, but you’ll also discover great routes with varying degrees of difficulty or learn traffic concentrations for different parts of town. There are also general benefits to cycling in a group—general safety, help in case of a repair emergency, and more sets of eyes watching the traffic around you.
  • Go Indoors – Today you can find cycling studios around every corner. Spinning is a great option for athletes looking to keep up their competitive training in the off-season.
  • General Benefits – Most folks think of swimming as the zero-impact sport. Cycling is right up there with it! Thanks to its zero- to low-impact nature, cycling is a great sport for runners or run-intensive athletes during recovery following an injury. As a cross-training tool, keeping your bike in a relatively easy gear and a fast cadence will help you improve endurance while a tougher gear on a moderate hill will work out your legs.

Do you already mix cycling into your cross-training plan? How has it helped you improve? If you are a cyclist, how do you feel your sport can help athletes in other disciplines improve? Any other tips you’d offer to an experienced athlete just getting started in the cycling world? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us your story on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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