Are you a Beginner to Cycling? Taking part in a future Cycling Event?
Starting on your cycling journey can be very intimidating. There’s so much to think about, what bike do I need? What kit shall I buy? Where can I ride? Not to mention the fear of the road, the worry about saddle sores, the anxiety of being slow, there are a myriad of reasons to give up and stay at home instead.
However, we love cycling, I mean really love it, and we have a whole host of friends and ambassadors who all started in exactly the same position as you, overwhelmed, under prepared and a little bit scared, so let us guide you through it.
First up, the bike. Your choice of steed could depend on the type of riding you want to do, on the terrain you have nearby, it could depend on your fitness level and what you want to achieve or it could be about the type of riding that your local group you’d like to join do, so it’s worth thinking about. Do you want to be a mountainbiker because there are some pretty cool trails nearby? A road rider because you’ve seen the Tour de France on TV and think it looks fun (You’re right, it is, all riding is fun!). Do you want a bike that will get you to work and back along bike tracks and disused railway lines and maybe the odd road if they’re not too busy? There are different bikes for all of these and your local bike shop is the best place to start. They’ll guide you through the type of bike you want and even let you sit on a few and maybe ride around the car park til you find the one that suits you best. We do of course sell bikes and you can check out our online shop and get in touch for more help.
Once you’ve decided what type of bike you want you’ll find that you have a whole host of kit choices to help you stay warm, or cool depending on the weather, stay seen, stay safe or just be comfortable for many miles in the saddle. Please do not be put off cycling because you think you need to have loads of posh kit, spend loads of money, and wear lycra. There are loads of different companies out there offering lots of different kit options. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable. There are lots of things written about helmet use, but for us we always wear a helmet and insist that all our riders do too, so let’s start there. Your choice of helmet will be influenced by your choice of bike. If you’re downhill mountain biking you’ll need a full face lid, but if you’re commuting you can find your self with lots of different funky options. Helmets are available in all sizes and styles, but, and please let us strongly re-emphasise this, do not buy one offline. You must try your helmet on and make sure it fits and is comfortable. Again, your local bike shop can help here, so get yourself along there and try a few on until you find one that fits and you feel comfortable in. All manufacturers have different shapes and sizes so don’t give up if you can’t find one in the first shop you try, visit another shop until you find one that you like…with any luck you’ll be wearing it plenty over the coming months and years so make sure it’s right for you. You can then start thinking about your clothing, padded shorts are a nice touch if you can afford them, and will certainly make riding more comfortable. You might want to invest in some waterproof shorts if you’re riding year round or to work as a cold wet bottom can make even the most scenic of rides a bit of a drag. You can buy jerseys in all colours and styles so shop around to find the one you want, but as with everything, you don’t need to spend loads of money to get going, so try a few on, find the one that’s comfortable and start there. You could of course treat yourself to one of our Sole Cycling jerseys that have 3 pockets in the back for snacks, phones and tools.
A big consideration for new riders is what to wear on your feet. You will see plenty of cyclists ‘clipping in’ to their pedals. They do this as it makes pedalling more efficient. You can, with practice, pedal by pulling up as well as pushing down and make the most of your strokes, but for a start we would recommend a nice comfortable pair of trainers and flat pedals. You might want to have a cage on the pedals that you can fit your feet into, this can make a nice introduction to being clipped in, but for now lets just get used to enjoying pedalling on our flat pedals.
OK, so you’ve decided on your bike, got your helmet on, feeling comfortable in your new kit and looking forward to starting your riding adventure, what’s next? If you’re in need of some support you could think about some coaching sessions. If you’re riding on the road you might like to think about taking part in a Bikeability style course (Cycling proficiency for those of you like us who were born in the 70s and early 80s) to help you master tackling junctions and understanding how far out into the road to ride. You could also look on the British Cycling website and find yourself a Breeze or guided ride to join, where a guide will be there to help you get started. If you’d like more one to one support then you could employ a coach. Check their experience, make sure they are qualified and insured and make sure they have coached others like you before. If they’re a Tour de France rider they might not necessarily have experience of teaching how road junctions work for example so it’s worth asking a few questions to make sure you get a coach who will suit you. You could have a look at some of our coached rides and see if there’s one there for you.
If you’re a wanna-be Mountain Biker then look for trail centres that offer coaching or look for experienced guides who can show you round your local terrain and show you how to tackle some of the obstacles that you might encounter such as tree routes or rocks, mud, puddles and of course trees and sharp turns.
Again, we offer these courses and have many years of mountain biking under our belts including appearances at the World and European Cross-Triathlon World Championships.
So that should be you up and running. We’re sure you have many more questions and we sure you’re still a little unsure about a few bits, but remember that event the best cyclists in the world started by wobbling around in a field or on a playground once, they, like you will, have picked up many tips on the way and have learnt by asking lots of questions and spending lots of time on their bike. One thing that unites them all is that they love to ride their bike, so please remember not to let getting started put you off, you have begun the best journey in the world, the journey to freedom, of long country rides, of action packed weekends with your friends rolling around in the mud, of getting to work more quickly than your colleagues in cars and on trains and saving a fortune in the process, of riding with your children, with your partner, your friends or with your own thoughts (trust us, you find your thoughts order themselves nicely as you start to ride and relax).
We’re very jealous of you, you have many exciting times coming up and we welcome you to the wonderful world of cycling.
If we can help, please do get in touch here.
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