10 Beginner Cycling Tips to Help You Love Cycling
Are you thinking about getting into cycling? I think you should. I have some great beginner cycling tips to ensure you love riding bikes after every single ride.
I’ve been a cyclist for over a decade. It saved my life. It was what go me into hiking. It’s such a fun way to work out that I never even feel like I’m exercising.
And I’ve lost a lot of weight and built a lot of strength because of cycling.
But I wanted to create these beginner cycling tips because you’ll hate cycling if you don’t do certain things. That’s not good. As I said, it’s one of t the best ways to stay healthy and strong if you’re doing it right.
Beginner Cycling Tips for Equipment and Gear
First, I want to give you some beginner cycling tips about the equipment and gear you buy to start cycling.
Tip #1: Buy the Right Bike
One of the most important beginner cycling tips is buying the right bike.
You need to answer two questions concerning getting the right bike. What kind of cycling do you want to get into? What size bike do you need?
There are many different types of cycling. There is road biking, mountain biking, gravel cycling, and easy trail riding. There is also e-biking. Bikes come in all different styles for riding but also different sizes. The size of a bike greatly matters to the rider.
Riding the wrong bike in the wrong conditions could result in a negative outcome. Riding the wrong size bike could result in injury.
The best way to ensure you get the right bike and size is to go to a local bike shop and get your bike from them. They’ll make sure you get what you need, you get to support local, and you’ll get a bike that is actually worth riding.
My favorite brand of bicycle is Trek. I like road and gravel bikes but also enjoy 29er mountain bikes.
Tip #2: Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet is one of the most important beginner cycling tips about safety that I can give you.
Did you know that around 850 cyclists died from head injuries when a helmet wasn’t used in recent years? The average age of those who died was in their late 40s. Males die more than females. Most fatalities happen in broad daylight.
There is no real reason why a cyclist shouldn’t wear a helmet. This is especially true if you plan to ride anywhere with moving vehicles. I ride on some busy roads when I road bike. I love road biking, and I’m not scared of it. But I always make sure I have a helmet on.
Too many people these days are paying more attention to their tech than to the road. It isn’t worth it to ride without a helmet. You can always fix your hair later in the day. You can’t always fix head and brain injuries.
Go to your local bike shop and support local while buying the best helmet for you and your activity.
Tip #3: Wear Bike Shorts
Consider wearing those shiny skintight spandex bike shorts while riding your bike.
They’re not flattering to beginner cyclists, I know. I was over 300 pounds when I pulled on my first pair of bike shorts. But they serve a purpose, and by wearing them from the get-go, you’ll thank yourself later. They serve a good purpose other than making you relive the 1980s.
You must first get over thinking people are looking at you. Most people see cyclists in spandex and know they’re cyclists. Anyone else might be mistaken as someone who’s lost their license and is riding because they can’t drive. But cycling apparel serves a purpose.
They make you more aerodynamic. If you want to get faster, having clothing that fits like a second skin will help you cut through the wind. The padding in cycling shorts (called a Chamois) will help reduce friction and keep your sit bones from hurting too much. The spandex wickers sweat and moisture and keeps you dry. Bib shorts come with suspender-like straps, which are more comfortable.
And all the flash colors that often come with cycling apparel are one more thing to make drivers notice you quicker. Those shiny shorts might save your life.
Get them for the padding, and if you have to, wear a pair of baggy shorts over them. But don’t wear anything under padded shorts; otherwise, you will experience chafing.
My favorite cycling apparel is by a company called WILDCYCLER which makes everything but boring plain colors.
Tip #4: Use Lights Day and Night
Get some bright lights and turn them on during the day and during the night. But wait, there’s a good reason.
As I said before, people are distracted by their technology. This is even the case when they’re driving. People are watching their phones and not paying attention to you. But if they notice a bright flashing red light, they will take notice.
If you get a good front and super bright rear light and turn it on no matter what time of the day it is, that’s more of a chance you’ll be seen while riding in traffic.
You should even do this during the day because, as I said, it’s one more way for drivers to see you in front of them.
My favorite light system is by NiteRyder, which is a cycling favorite.
Tip #5: Take Care of Your Bike
Make sure you take extra care of your bike because it is as important as your car.
If your car breaks down, you got your bike. The more cycling you do, the longer you’ll be able to ride. If gas becomes too expensive or you have mechanical problems, your bike might be handy for local travel.
But bikes have to be taken care of. You need to keep your bike clean to increase its lifespan. Keep the chain greased. Replace the chain when needed. Replace parts when they need to be replaced. Buy upgrades that make your bike better. And try to get a basic tune-up at least once a year.
Keeping your bike in great shape is also a great learning lesson. You can learn a lot about bike maintenance if you do it yourself. You have to be confident about doing it, however. Otherwise, I’d recommend leaving it to your local bike shop.
And make sure you keep your bike inside or in a secure shelter. Bikes are highly wanted these days, and people will take them if left unattended. They hold their value when you take care of them.
Beginner Cycling Tips for Cyclist Techniques
These next couple of beginner cycling tips focus on your technique and skills as a beginner cyclist.
Tip #6: Hydration and Fuel
One of the best beginner cycling tips I need to mention is staying hydrated and fueled on your bike.
You must stay hydrated and fueled while riding to build strength and stamina and prevent injury. Dehydration isn’t a joke. It can seriously harm you. You have to take these things seriously, or you’ll hate cycling.
No matter what the temperature is, stay hydrated. Try to make it a habit to take a few drinks of your drink every half hour – more on hotter days. Try to fuel up before your ride and then consume fuel during your ride as needed.
Never skimp out on hydrating and staying fueled, or you’ll regret it in the end.
I drink water for my hydration and use GU Energy for fuel through gels and waffles.
Tip #7: Hill Riding Technique
Hills are bitter-sweet for the cyclist. You’ll love them, and you’ll hate them all at the same time.
But hills are important. They make you a better cyclist. They make you stronger. They build bone density. They make you lose weight. They build muscle. They do way better than they do bad. And I can’t think of anything bad they do that would make you not want to do them.
Getting up a hill is tough. Sometimes you got to get off the bike and push, and that’s fine. But sometimes, you can ride in a zigzag pattern (if it’s safe), which will help you save energy to get up the hill. Some people like to stand up a ride up the hill, especially at the very top. And don’t get in a hurry when going up the hill. Take your time. Get better and faster on your terms.
Going downhill can be just as bad as going up. It can be terrifying to go downhill fast. It’s fine to ride your brakes the first couple of times until you get to a speed that is a little more comforting. But you should try to get a little quicker each time until you’re comfortable not using your brakes unless you get going too fast.
Hills are one of the best ways to make you a stronger cyclist at the end of the day.
Tip #8: How to Get Fast
There are many ways to get faster on your bike. Here are a few beginner cycling tips to help you increase your speed.
As I said above, your apparel can help with speed. Wearing skintight cycling kits or even a skinsuit can make you more aerodynamic. They also make helmets that help you become more aerodynamic. But the position of your body can also help you cut through the wind and pressure you create.
If you have the money, you can purchase lighter bikes made from carbon fiber and other lightweight constructions. If you have a heavier bike already, you can upgrade several different components to make the bike lighter. Talk to your local bike shop for ideas about this.
But most importantly, you’ll get faster as you develop into a stronger and more confident cyclist. I suggest using a cycling app such as Strava to help keep track of your progress and performance.
The best way to get faster isn’t with your bike or clothing; it’s by cycling more often and getting better at it.
Tip #9: Fitness Off the Bike
Beginner cycling tips don’t just stop at cycling. You should also be doing things off the bike to make you stronger at cycling.
A proper diet is important when off the bike. It’s important to eat right based on what type of strength you’re trying to build. Getting skinnier helps make you a better spinner for speed. Building a stronger lower body and muscle development helps you crush hills. If you’re an amateur who isn’t racing, why not just go in between?
Aim for a healthy weight but build some muscle.
I like to perform various types of fitness activities off the bike that helps me on the bike. For starters, I obviously hike a lot. I hike rugged and hilly trails, which helps me build up my leg muscles and ability to bike in hillier conditions. I also like to kayak, which helps me maintain my upper body, which often gets neglected on the bike.
Cycling shouldn’t be your only form of fitness. You should be eating right and getting others forms of exercise off the bike.
Tip #10: Racing 101
Racing is the next level to enhance your cycling experience as you get better at it.
There are many different types of racing. There are crits, time trials, road races, triathlons, biathlons, and other racing disciplines to participate in. There is plenty of amateur racing, and there is professional racing.
If you’re interested in racing, why not try a simple local race to see if you like it? You don’t have to be a professional cyclist to get into racing. Being competitive will only make you a stronger cyclist at the end of the day.
Bike racing will allow you to enter an entirely different world of getting into cycling.
And there you have it. That’s 10 great beginner cycling tips to help you fall in love with cycling. These are tips that I’ve learned over the years that have made me love cycling as much as I do today. I hope you fall in love with it as I did. If you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it subscribe to my free monthly newsletter.
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Founder, Hiking with Shawn
Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman
Hi, Shawn! I’ve followed you for a while and finally decided to reach out after reading your story because I’m where you were, so I’m comfortable asking for your advice. I’m 64 female, out of shape due to sedentary job, spinal stenosis, arthritis, fibro, and overweight. Combined, I’m a mess, but I want so badly to fight this! Get stronger, lose weight, feel better, and improve my balance.
I have a nice bike, virtually unused, and I really want to hike and bike to see our beautiful SoIL. Everything has to start slow, though, so where do I begin? I live in JC, so not many places to ride here.
Thanks so much!
A really great place to start is a bike trail. You have a few options. You could go the Rend Lake but their trail is surprisingly a little hillier up that way. It’s hilly because it’s built on a regular terrain. Hills are a great way to exercise with your bike but sometimes they’re too much. So, I often recommend going to Tunnel Hill State Trail. Start out at Vienna and head north towards the tunnel. The trip to the tunnel and back is around 20 miles total. It’s uphill all the way to the tunnel (but not like the hills at Rend Lake because it’s a railroad grade). If you can’t make it to the tunnel and back, make that your fitness goal. Do a little more at a time until you make it. Riding from the tunnel is a reward because it’s mostly downhill. That’s my advice. Please let me know how it works out for you and contact me anytime you need more advice. I’m here for you!