Beginners Guide to Cycling – Basics


with help from zenhabits and other web resources


  1. Rule of 3.  You will fall at least 3 times when you are learning or re-learning how to ride your bike.  Accept it.  As Lance Armstrong says “If you worry too much about falling off the bike you will never get on.”
  2. Start slow.  Most Canada Get Fit members are in pretty good shape.  But cycling uses other muscles and your body will need to get use to the new types of stress.  So you will find some interesting aches showing up.  You know what that tells you?  You are doing stuff!  How many people our age can actually say they are doing that!  
  3. Be safe.  This is my cardinal rule.  ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET.  NO HELMET NO RIDE is my absolute rule.  I also encourage riding during light, follow traffic rules (cause if it comes down to you and a car…the car always wins), yield to traffic, wear bright colours so drivers can see you (yes there is a reason for those goofy outfits cyclist wear).
  4. Bike.  You don’t have to spend more than my father did on his first house but you certainly can if you want to.  If you are just getting into cycling my recommendation is to start out at an entry level bike and grow into the sport.  Cycling is wonderful as there are always more gadgets you can buy if you want to improve your bike (ie new gears, or brakes, clip in pedals or monitors) The more expensive bikes are lighter, made of carbon fibre, providing stronger stiffer frames and thin tires for less friction.  Generally the higher end bikes offer features that make cycling faster and a bit easier.  But all you really need is something with 2 wheels.  At my second Ironman there was a guy doing 180K with a banana seat bike. 
  5. Fit.  What is most important is that the bike fits you.  The bike should fit your height (from ground to crotch) as well as the distance from seat to handle.  A professionally fit bike is the best investment you can make after your HELMET.  It will ensure that you have a positive experience riding especially as the distances increase by maximizing your comfort. The worst feeling is having your “special places” go numb because your seat isn’t positioned properly.  Or having to get off the bike to stretch because your lower back is spasming. These and other ailments are easily avoided with a good fit. 
  6. Equipment.  Unlike running cycling is equipment centric.  You don’t need a lot of fancy gear to get started you can add that later as your knowledge and appreciation for what the equipment can do for you improves.  Minimum equipment
    1. HELMET
    2. Water bottle.  You need one with a cage that attaches to your bike.  Interesting you may notice people with different types.  Ones that go behind your seat.  Ones that fits in the V on the inside of your frame.  I find that the bottle on the frame suits me fine.  I am not co-ordinated enough to reach behind me and I can’t go fast enough to benefit from the aerodynamics of the triangle shaped water bottle that fits in the V of the frame. 
    3. Pump.  You will at some point get a flat.  It is inevitable.  So you need to make sure you have a means to inflate your tire. You can use either a pump or a Co2 cartridge.  I have actually moved away from pumps and opted instead for the Co2 cartridge.  I just found the Co2 more convenient and honestly faster. 
    4. Repair kit.  A simple repair kit includes a patch kit, spare tube, tire levers, a multi-tool  all in a small bag that fits under your seat.
    5. Gloves.  I think they are essential.  They absorb shock from the road, because they are padded, but more importantly if you crash your palms are protected. 
    6. Glasses.  Think of them as protective eyewear.  Not only do they protect your eyes from sun rays but sometimes you get road grit kicking up or bugs.  The glasses act as a shield protecting your eyes from damage.  They also make you look cool . 
    7. Computer.  A bike computer is a great way to make sure you track your distance, cadence and time on the bike.  It comes in handy but isn’t an absolute must. Especially if you ride with people who have them!
    8. Shoes & Clips.  The most efficient way of peddling is if you are using your up-stroke as well, not just your down-stroke (pulling the pedals up and pushing them down). To do this, of course, you either need cage pedals to put your shoes in, or the kind of pedals that lock into your cycling shoes. You’d also need special shoes for that, of course.  I actually recommend the bike shoes and clips.  Once you are used to them you will never go back to riding with running shoes or flip flops.

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