ActiveHealth Community Writer
Riding a bicycle is a very simple recreational activity but it can be quite demanding as a sport. Once you decide to take it up a notch and go from exercising for fitness to training for competition, it will no longer be a simple ride-and-go affair. There will be a host of new and more technical details that you will now need to learn and consider. Equip yourself with these tips to help start you off on the road to biking faster, farther, and more frequently:
1. Expect to spend for more than just the bike.
From various bike gadgets and accessories, to necessary tools, gear, and apparel, there are several other things you will need for a safe and hassle-free cycling experience. Consider these when setting a budget so you won’t splurge it all on the bike and end up without enough for these other necessities. A helmet and a pair of pedals (in case your new bike does not come with one as is usually the case) should be enough to get you started riding. But when you go riding farther and longer in open roads, you’ll also need to have basic troubleshooting tools and spare parts, a proper cycling apparel set, and bottle cages and water bottles among others.
2. Expect your bum to hurt.
Our bodies are not designed to sit astride a narrow saddle for long durations so expect your crotch region to feel sore after your first few rides. This is especially true if you are starting out with minimal bicycle riding experience. Using softer and wider saddles together with a good quality pair of cycling shorts may alleviate some of the discomfort but will not instantly eliminate it. There is no way around it but to ride more and let your body adapt to the position and sensation of sitting on a bike, provided also that it is appropriately fitted to you. If the pain persists even after weeks of riding, make adjustments to your saddle position or better yet, get your whole bike fit checked.
3. Expect to fall off your bike
There are two types of cyclists, an old saying says: Those who have crashed and those who are going to. This thought is not intended to dissuade you from riding, but rather to help you be prepared for the inevitable. The primary things you can do to avoid common crashes are to always stay alert and ensure that your bike is properly maintained.
In the event of a crash nonetheless, you can minimize potential injury by tucking your head down between your shoulders, keeping hold of your handlebars, and letting your body roll on the ground to somewhat dampen the impact. Extending your hands and arms to brace yourself from the fall risks breaking your arm or collar bones.
4. Expect mechanicals
The bicycle like any other machine is bound to experience various sorts of mechanical problems even under normal use, and you should be prepared to handle these when you encounter it during a ride. It is a must that you learn basic bike troubleshooting such as fixing a flat tire and a dislodged chain at the bare minimum. Also, have your bike cleaned and checked regularly to minimize other more complex mechanical issues.
These may seem daunting to take in all at once, and we haven’t even discussed each item in full detail yet, but once you’ve secured all the essentials when going on a bike ride, gotten used to riding for hours, and learned how to handle yourself and your bike in case of an emergency, you’ll be enjoying your bike rides a whole lot more. You’ll be riding comfortably and confidently over longer distances knowing that you can handle any situation that might come up while you’re out there on the road.