There has never been a better time to start cycling. Whether it is to avoid crowded public transport, build your defense against the virus or just to get outside into the countryside after being in lockdown, this blog contains the key steps to get you started with cycling. Don´t worry, you don’t have to shave your legs….yet!
Step 1 – Just Ride!
If you have an old bike in your garage, or one that you can borrow from a friend, our advice is to brush off the dust and start there. You can always upgrade later when you get hooked, but why delay getting out and feeling that breeze in your face?
If you are not lucky enough to already have a bike, then you will be looking to purchase one. This is a great first commitment to getting into cycling. Just like booking a holiday persuades you to look after your waistline, buying a bike means you are more likely to get out cycling!
What Type of Cycling Would You Like to Do?
The most important question is what will you use the bike for? If you are looking for a bike to commute to work, you will want something you can use all year round, that is hardy and not too expensive so you can leave it locked outside a shop. Your frame material choice will likely be aluminium or steel which are durable and more affordable materials. Examples are the Ridley Tempo & Eddy Merckx Claris. These bikes are also perfect for leisure cycling at the weekends, not least because you can easily fix a rack and panniers to them for carrying your laptop or picnic alike.
If your idea is to become a weekend warrior; to escape into the countryside on the road, then consider a traditional drop bar road bike. Drop bars are actually safer than flat bars at higher speeds on roads with imperfections and you will be surprised how quickly you get used to them. It does feel a little faster at first and that is part of the thrill of road cycling.
Most cyclists opt for an endurance road bike – these are bikes built for comfort and have a more relaxed geometry. This means your cycling position will be a bit more upright & less aero – perfect for enjoying a weekend spin with friends. If you’re a speed-demon & have good flexibility you may want to consider a bike with a more aggressive geometry – a lower front end of the bike will place you in a more aerodynamic position, great for racing. You’ll get some speed advantages but remember that unless you are flexible & have good core strength you might experience discomfort & enjoy cycling less.
Where to Buy Your First Bike
First things first, you do not need to break the bank. If you buy second hand you can obtain a much better bike for your money, however you should trust the seller.
You may want to consider buying from a trusted seller like your local bike shop or an online platform like the Eat Sleep Cycle shop. Buying from a trusted source means you are sure the bike has a credible history and will be safe to ride.
What’s Your Budget for Your First Bike?
You can spend as much as you like on a road bike. If you are serious about getting started then we suggest spending at least €1,000 for a good entry level bike.
For example, the Ridley Fenix SLA Disc retails at €1,599.
Although you can get a more affordable aluminium road bike, carbon is the material of choice since it is lighter and stiffer than other materials. You can obtain an entry level carbon road bike for €1,000 to €2,000.
If you would prefer to treat yourself there are of course also plenty of higher end options which boast lighter frames and better components. If you are getting started you don’t need this extra performance but if you can afford it and you want it, it’s better to go for it so you can truly enjoy the ride. Take the Factor O2 VAM, a bike which you will not be able to put down and will see you sailing up the climbs!
Getting the Right Fit
Choosing a bike that is the right size is important. Your local bike shop will be able to provide good advice but if you want to be 100% sure, consider a bike fit. A full fit can cost €100 to €300, but many bike shops will include a basic fit when you buy a new bike. Always check the size guide for your bike and our advice is to go for the smaller frame. For handling it is better to be on the lower end of a size scale with a longer stem than on the upper end.
Soon after you start riding your new machine you might start to experience all sorts of discomfort. Some of it is your body adapting to the new position & type of movement, but some of it can be avoided by taking the following steps:
- Choose a comfortable saddle. Saddles are a very personal thing & what works for your cycling buddy may not work for you. A saddle needs to be the correct width to support your sit bones.
- Make sure your cleats are set up properly. A misaligned cleat can cause all kinds of issues, especially with your knees.
- Check your saddle fore & aft
- Check your stem length
- Check your handlebar width
A good bike fit will give you tips on all of this!
All The Gear: The right kit is just as important as the bike
When you have the urge, whatever you are wearing, get out on your bike and just ride! Over short distances you can ride in pretty much any clothes, common sense prevails in that you normally need less on than you think, but watch out for wind chill which you do not feel walking but will at the higher speeds experienced on a bike. Rain is also one of the biggest challenges.
Dressing correctly on a bike comes with experience and you will learn as you go along.
Lycra is a road cyclists best friend due to its incredible properties of comfort, aerodynamics and wicking (sweat and rainwater).
Of course, here we are assuming that you are making the jump to lycra. If you are not ready for that, do not fear! There is plenty of cool casual cycling clothing out there like these Chrome Industries casual shorts. If you are commuting or doing short rides this type of clothing is absolutely fine.
The single most important item is the cycling short, available with or without bibs. These contain a chamois which is designed to protect your important bits from the repetitive motion on the saddle. The chamois design is the attention of innovation for the major kit manufacturers and just like with your bike, there is a complete price range to choose from.
An entry level cycling bib short can start at around €70 however our recommendation is to invest in a good set that will last a lot longer and provide you hours of comfort, for example the Assos range. You will not regret it!
Next, your cycling jersey which will also be lycra like your bib shorts. This clothing is designed to be a tight fit, to avoid chafing and reduce wind resistance. The more you ride and wear lycra the fonder you will become of it!
Your cycling shoes are important and should have a firm soul. Take your time moving to clip in pedals but once you can you will benefit from a significant power transfer and also feel pro!
As for handling variations in weather, consider applying several thin layers rather than one big one, like arm and leg warmers and a gilet. This allows you to easily adjust your body temperature as you warm up and cool down during the ride. Always have a pocket size rain jacket in your pocket!
Find some cycling friends
After your first couple of rides to get used to the bike it’s time to find some cycling friends! There is no better motivation to get fitter & fellow cyclists love nothing more than to talk about cycling, compare rides and their gear!
More experienced riders will be able to help you pace yourself up your first hill & will teach you how to ride safely in a group. There are a bunch of hand signals cyclists use to communicate with each other on the road – getting to know these is all part of becoming part of the cycling community.
If you do not already have cycling friends, connect to your local club or head to a local cycling cafe. Even during lockdown you can meet cyclists on online platforms and join any of the hundreds of virtual social rides published on the virtual cycling platforms like Zwift or RGT.
Book your first cycling holiday or challenge
Getting a challenge in your calendar is the perfect motivation to work towards. Whether that is a local sportive or a cycling holiday in the sunshine with your cycling friends, there is no better way to keep you pedaling!
Inspired to Ride?
We’d love to hear from you! Whether you’d like more advice on buying a new bike or would like to find out more about the inspiring cycling tours & challenges we offer get in touch!
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