Getting Started with Cycling

With the weather getting better and better every month cycling is an excellent way to get more aerobic exercise in your day-to-day life as it can help replace more sedentary modes of transportation such as driving or riding the bus. Yet, there are some things to keep in mind when deciding to start cycling.

Type of Bicycle

The most important thing to decide is what type of bike best suits your needs.

Racing cycles: high performance bikes meant for speed not comfort, these are preferred bikes for those who compete in triathlons and biking competitions.

Road bikes: with their narrow tires these bikes are meant to be used on paved roads. They can be used for both short or long distance cycling and are used in events such as the Tour de France.

Mountain bikes: the wider tires and stronger grip make these excellent for off-road use.

Hybrid: these offer a mix of road and mountain bike traits. Though not as quick on roads or trails as the road or mountain bike they offer more options to those who like to use their bike for daily commutes as well as weekend excursions.

Commuter bikes: sturdy bikes that offer attachments and compartments that make commuting on a daily basis easier while withstanding constant use.

Deciding on the right bike to use will depend on your needs, comfort and pricing. Many bike shops will do basic fittings with some specialty shops offering custom fitting sessions though those these tend to be pricey. It is important to remember that men’s and women’s saddles are shaped differently and are sure to cause discomfort if not used by the intended gender.

Comfort

It may seem discouraging at first that despite getting a bike fitting, you find discomfort when riding your bike. There are several reasons this may be occurring but usually it comes down to the unfamiliarity of being on a bike seat. Give your body time to get used to riding your bike by limiting yourself to short 10-20 minute rides. If discomfort doesn’t improve after some time, consider purchasing some padded cycling shorts. Also avoid locking your arms too tightly as this can cause strain on your shoulders, neck and wrists. It’s also helpful to remember that riding a bike exposes you to more wind than you would normally get just walking around so making sure to wear extra layers may help in the colder months.

Lastly, remember that in most situations roads will be shared with pedestrians and automobiles. Checking for road hazards, maintaining proper tire pressure and wearing bright reflective clothing will help reduce the chance of accidents.


For more detailed information for getting into cycling visit http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/getting-started-with-cycling.pdf.


Reprinted with permission of the American College of Sports Medicine. Copyright © 2014 American College of Sports Medicine.

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