You’re ready. You’ve thrown down the cash for a brand new bike and some snazzy cycling jerseys. You’re all set to tackle the Tour de France, but there’s one small problem: you haven’t actually done much cycling at all. That’s okay—even the greats had to start somewhere. If you’re ready to hit the road for the first time, you’ve got to know the basics.
Here are 10 cycling tips even the most road-hardened veteran can’t do without:
ROAD CYCLING TIPS
1. Pay attention to your surroundings. Sharing is caring. Cars, pedestrians, and other cyclists all have a right to the road, but you never know when some doofus might exercise that right in an erratic fashion. Keep your eyes peeled, and avoid a serious spill.
2. Go with the wind flow. Riding behind other bikers reduces wind resistance, which lets you bike smarter, not harder. This is called “drafting,” and it lets you use way less energy than going against Mother Nature.
3. Find some friends. Cycling with friends is a great way to learn the lay of the land. Buddy up with friends who know the roads, and you can socialize on the go. Bonus points if you end up at your local pizza joint.
LONG DISTANCE CYCLING TIPS
4. Master your cadence. Endurance is everything. Knowing when to push and when to let off can be the difference between a smooth ride and a tough trip. It’s all about keeping your cadence (that’s the rhythm at which you pedal) and finding your sweet spot.
5. Don’t grind your gears. Pedaling in high gear over long periods can strain your knees. Remember, you’re in it for the long run. Shift down to a lower gear to pedal faster with less effort—and less stress. Your cycling technique will thank you.
6. Plan your route. It’s easy to lose yourself to the freedom of cycling. But actually getting lost? That sucks. Especially when a freak storm hits. In the age of GPS, it’s easier than ever to know where you’re going. Find the best route beforehand and you’ll be a more efficient cyclist.
CYCLING FITNESS TIPS
7. Change positions frequently. Whether you’re cycling for three hours or thirty minutes, that’s a long time to stay in one position. Move your hands and body to keep your shoulders and neck from cramping up.
8. Know your limits. Everyone wants to start out putting hundreds of miles behind them. But you’ve got to train up to that point. The last thing you want is to strand yourself hours away from home, just because your body couldn’t handle it. Work to your comfort, but push yourself gradually, and you’ll be biking with the best in no time.
CYCLING SAFETY TIPS
9. Know how to fix a flat. File this one away with Death and Taxes – flat tires can, and inevitably will, happen. Not to worry—just practice fixing flats at home. Sounds a bit like homework, but it could be the difference between finishing a race and finishing dead last.
10. Wear the right gear. A helmet isn’t the only gear you should never leave home without. Cycling jerseys and other tight-fitting garments can cut down on drag and keep you cool while you ride, even when you’re pushing your bod’ to its limits. Becoming a great cyclist doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got your work cut out for you. So keep these cycling tips and techniques in mind, and you’ll be one step closer to your goals.
Next stop: Tour de France.