Cycling is a sport enjoyed by over 35 million recreational riders. As local communities are funding projects to promote the use of bicycles this number is expected to rise in a few years. Cycling is good for the environment and good for our bodies. As more and more people work on getting in better physical fitness, health care costs are reduced and this is good for the economy.
Aside from the upfront cost, cycling is free and can be enjoyed just about anywhere. To get the most out of the sport here are some guidelines for the beginning rider to follow to improve their performance, comfort, safety, and enjoyment.
Always wear a helmet on every ride. Half of the 700 cycling deaths last year in the U.S. could of been avoided with the use of a helmet.
Wear brightly colored clothes with reflective trim even during daylight hours.
Use front and rear lights and check the batteries often.
Wear protective eyewear. Wear anything from tinted to clear depending on the conditions and time of day. Lenses should be shatterproof types made for sporting activities.
Obey all traffic signs and use the appropriate hand signals when turning. Travel with the traffic not against it.
Do not ride while wearing headphones.
Walk across rail road tracks as they are notorious for causing falls. The front wheel slips sideways on the slick steel track very easily.
Stay hydrated. Carry enough water to get you between stops.
Make sure you have the proper size bike for your body size. Proper frame size is essential to putting the rider in an ideal position for effective cycling.
The seat needs to be positioned so that your leg is just slightly bent at the bottom of a stroke. Seats come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some have built in comfort features such as gel inserts.
The handlebars should be positioned about an inch below the seat on most bikes. The ideal width should be close to the width of your shoulders.
Wear clothing for cycling. There are a lot of comfort features built into cycling clothing. Padding in shorts, moisture wicking fabrics, vented shirts and pants, are just some of these features. Gloves with gel pads are very nice to wear. Cycle long enough and you will appreciate the features in cycling apparel.
Most cyclists pedal at a rate of 70 to 80 rotations per minute, rpm. Using proper gearing will allow you to achieve this cadence regardless of your level. As you progress the number of rotations will stay the same but the gear selections will be different
On uphill climbs gear down to maintain the same rpm's and avoid the temptation to stand up and pedal. Standing up actually causes you to expel more energy thus making the climb more difficult.
Ride with your elbows slightly bent and relaxed. This helps with absorbing the bumps in the road.
When on a mountain bike during steep off road descents lower your seat about 6 inches and shift your weight to the rear of the seat to keep most of your weight on the rear tire. Not doing this can cause you to go head over the handle bars if the hill is steep enough.
The most important tip of all is to just get out there and do it!