If you wondering how to get into the sport of road cycling, here you come to the right place. As a beginner, there’s a lot to learn. Good road cyclists are not made from logging lots of miles, but rather from mastering some basic techniques, like those we will explain below. While you won’t be able to learn them all at once, there are a few things you should be aware of before heading out on the road.
Choose your bike
Like any other cycling discipline, your first step is finding a bike that’s right for you and fit for purpose. It is important to make sure what you want to achieve on your bike, then narrow down your searches by budget, components, and even look.
Once you’ve got your road bike, it’s time to set the saddle height. As a rule of thumb, when standing against the frame, the saddle height should be roughly in line with your hip. Another opt is to set the pedal at 6 o’clock, then rest your heel on it: your leg should be straight but you shouldn’t need to rock your hips to reach it. We recommend starting out with flat pedals rather than clipless. This allows you to have the movement of your feet without feeling too restricted or locked in. You had to make sure the pedals were set up before getting on the bike and giving it your first push. The best way to do this is standing on the left-hand side of the bike, and rotate the right pedal to the front. This will give you the first down-stroke you’ll need to get momentum going. Once your saddle was adjusted to the correct height, and the pedals were set up, it was time to hold the brakes and lean myself onto the bike.
Before you begin to worry about getting faster, you’ll need to learn how to be safe if you’re going to begin riding on the road. Cyclists of all levels should abide by these basic safety tips:
Even on short or slow rides, you should not forget your helmet.
Use hand signals to alert others of your intentions.
Follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles.
Know basic roadside repairs, such as changing a flat tire.
Great athletes in any sport let it flow, making impossible moves and extreme effort look easy. Relaxed cyclists handle their bicycles better, go faster with less effort and enjoy every ride a lot more. Very few things do more to improve your overall road riding. Here's how to be loose as a goose on the bike:
Face Off. Consciously relax your face and neck. If your facial muscles are tight, your whole body follows.
No Turtles. Don't look like a turtle hiding from danger. Drop your shoulders and relax the muscles that run from the top of the shoulder to your neck.
Loosening up your arms. Bend your elbows slightly so that you have a 5-to-90-degree bend. If you hit a bump or get bumped, loose arms absorb the blow without affecting the front wheel. You keep your line and stay in control.
Don't forget to relax your grip on the bars too. Just hold tight enough that your hands won't come off if you hit bumps. Be sure to change your hand position regularly, too.
Riding with others
The best way to start is to practice "drafting" with one other rider. In cycling, riding in the draft of others can help you save energy and ride farther than you would alone. Compared with riding at the same speed when your body is exposed to the wind, riding behind another cyclist can help you to conserve up to 40% of your energy.
While for a beginner cyclist, riding in close proximity to another cyclist is a nerve-racking thing, you can still enjoy some of the benefits of drafting if you’re within 2–3 feet. When you're riding in groups and drafting, always keep in mind that the rider in front of you may do something unexpected, like swerving, coasting or even stopping suddenly. To be prepared and safe, be sure he knows you're back there. Start by maintaining this distance, and gradually move in closer to the back wheel as you become a more confident bike handler. Ride with a more experienced cyclist if possible because he can help you with basic drafting principles until you become more comfortable riding in a group.
Invest in the right saddle
Saddle comfort is very individualized. Everyone is different, and what you find comfortable probably won’t be comfortable for someone else. Look for a bike shop that has a demo saddle program. This will allow you to try several different options to see which is the most comfortable for you.
Use clipless pedals
If you’re going to start riding your bike for fitness, clipless pedals are a must. By fixing your foot to the pedal with a specialized shoe and cleat, you’ll be able to pedal more efficiently and involve more muscle groups than flat pedals will allow. Over long distances or during high-intensity efforts, this can make a big difference in your performance and comfort on the bike.
Fine tune your shifting.
In order to improve your average speed, learning to shift at the right time can help you keep your momentum. Here are a few basic shifting tips:
Always shift before the terrain changes.
On climbs, ease up on the pedals when you shift to avoid making your chain fall off.
Avoid cross-chaining, which means riding with the big ring up front and the largest cog on the back or on the small ring in the front and the smallest cog on the back.