INTRO TO CYCLING: Basic Guide To Get Started
Feb 2012 02

Working towards my personal goal to add more bikes to the road in my area, I had yet another coworker and good friend that called me this week inquiring about cycling. Exciting news to me, as I love to converse about cycling with anyone, especially someone that respects my opinion about the sport and wants to start riding. So now that I’ve recently been through this scenario more than once, I thought, it would be real helpful if new cyclists, or people considering cycling as a hobby, had a point of reference to get them started.

That’s the vision of this blog. Hopefully, it will prove helpful to anyone considering the opportunity to begin cycling, and more importantly, help them find a new passion. RAM Cycling is living proof that all it takes to become passionate about bicycling is to get started. I will address the introduction to cycling in an outline format with some FAQs to follow. As always, feel free to send any additional questions by posting a comment below, and we will do our best to find the correct answer for you!

RAM CYCLING: INTRO TO CYCLING

I. GEAR NECESSARY

A.    Must Have

1.   Bicycle (mountain, road, hybrid, commuter, etc. . . it’s your choice)

2.   Helmet (please take our advice on this, I promise)

3.   Air pump (inflate tires to proper pressure before every ride)

4.   Bike All-Purpose Bag (mounts under seat or on handlebars)

5.   Water (stay hydrated on every ride)

6.   First Aid Kit (keep in AP bag for emergencies)

7.   Compact Bike Tool Kit (needed for minor bike adjustments)

8.   Spare Tube/Tire Repair Kit & Compact Pump or CO2 Inflator

B.   Enhancement Items

1.   Shoes & Clip-less Pedals (get comfortable with the bike first)

2.   Cycling Shorts or Bibs (with built in chamois or padding)

3.   Cycling Jersey (with front zipper and rear pockets)

4.   Gloves (fingerless for summer, full finger for winter)

5.   Lights/Reflectors (not just for seeing, but for being seen)

6.   Sunglasses (or protective glasses to keep out flies, bugs, etc.)

7.   Bike Computer (for tracking stats and knowing your speed at all times)

8.   Money & Snacks ( store in AP bag or jersey pockets)

II. WHERE TO RIDE

A.   Mountain Bikes

1.   Trails or Trail Parks

2.   Roads (not recommended)

B.   Road Bikes

1.   Paved Trails

2.   Roads (and bike lanes in towns)

III. WHO TO RIDE WITH

A.   Group Rides

1.   Local Clubs (great way to learn road rules and safety habits)

2.   Private Groups (not organized, but still a group)

B.   Solo Rides

1.    Alone (bicycling gives you freedom to ride anytime)

IV. FAQs SECTION

Q: Where can I ride on the road, and when?

A: Ride on the roads at any time, just be sure to be highly visible, especially in low lighted times of day, and follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a vehicle. Use arm signals in traffic and make eye contact with drivers. Not permitted to ride on parkways or interstates, everywhere else is fair game!

Q: What kind of bike should I buy? New or Used?

A: Consider what you plan to use the bike for most and start there. If you want to ride dirt tracks, get a mountain bike. If you want to commute to work, get a touring or commuter bike, and so on. I recommend starting out getting a used bike until you find the passion of cycling that interests you most, then spend the big bucks for the bike of your dreams.

Q: Where should I buy my bike?

A: Used bikes, you can find good deals on the Internet, just be sure to check out the seller’s background. New bikes are also on the web, but I recommend finding a local bike shop close to you and developing a relationship with them for buying and servicing your bike. They sometimes have used bikes for sale, as well.

Q: I want to ride a road bike, but the traffic scares me. How can I get over the fear of riding on the road?

A: Road fear affects us all to some extent. Join a local cycling club if possible, the group riding experience will help create a confidence for road riding. It will also teach you safe riding and group ride etiquette. Find a route and time of day for cycling that feels safe and comfortable, then plan to ride accordingly.

Q: What do I do if I have a flat tire on a ride?

A: It’s not if, it’s when. That’s why I highly recommend keeping an AP bag attached to your bike with all the necessities for bike or tire repair on the go. You can carry CO2 inflators or buy a compact pump that mounts to your bike’s frame.

Q: Do I really need cycling shorts, jersey, clip in shoes, and pedals?

A: If you are riding as a commute to work, no. For pretty much all other aspects of cycling, yes. Without going into a lot of detail about each enhancement item, once you get each, you will see and understand the difference.

Q: When is the best time of the year to start cycling?

A: TODAY! The sooner you start cycling, the sooner you may discover your hidden passion for the sport.

Hope this info helps you get started into cycling, and allows you to develop a love for the bike and the experience. If you have additional questions, please feel free to post a comment on this blog. I definitely recommend joining a local bike club if you have one available, because of the wealth of info they make available to you, as well as the experience and knowledge you gain by riding with groups. If you are in or near the Lexington, KY area, check out the Bluegrass Cycling Club at bgcycling.org . I also recommend finding a local bike shop to cater to your needs for clothing, gear, and more knowledge. Now get out there and get started CYCLING!!!         *Masher

2 Comments

  1. Great article: just what I need as a beginner. I realize that maintaining my health is the most important daily activity I can pursue. My health is everything! I am eighty years old, and I notice that my quadracepts have lost some tonality even though I go to the gym two-three times per week. I”m guessing that a well planned cycling program could possibly reverse this trend or at least slow it down. I am of the opinion that having strong leg muscles is essential. Your thoughts?

    • Masher says:

      Mark, Yes having strength in your legs is essential to cycling for fitness. However, cycling is a very unique sport in a manner that the muscle groups required to be a strong endurance cyclist are not developed by cycling. Riding will certainly strengthen your legs, but the core is actually not improved by cycling and it is very important to cycling for fitness. Welcome to cycling, Mark. I love this sport and hobby, and sure do hope I am able to ride when I’m 80! Thanks for visiting RAM, Kevin Pearl

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