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Cycling Tips for New Cyclists
The holidays are upon us, and if you are lucky, you just may wake up to find a shiny new bike waiting for you! But before you don your gear and go out into the cold, check out these very important tips for new cyclists.
- Start slowly and stay close to home! Whether you have been riding another bike or biking is new to you, it’s best to start slow. New bikes may have manufacturing defects – and trust me, you don’t want to be 10 miles from home and realize you need to walk your bike back. Start by riding just a couple of miles, and gradually increase your distance over a couple of weeks’ time. Your body will thank you!
- Find the right fit. Obviously having your bicycle professionally adjusted for you is best, but for many of us, a good fit simply involves making our own adjustments as needed. Fortunately, most bikes are easy to adjust and fine-tune for your own body.
- Don’t break in new gear at the same time. If you received great new gear, shoes, and a bike all the at the same time, it can be tempting to grab all your fresh new duds and try them out. But what happens if you develop saddle sores or blisters on your feet? You want to be able to know if they are caused by the bike or by your gear, and the only way to know is to introduce just one new item at a time. If you got a new bike, stick to your old gear and shoes for a couple of weeks until you know the bike well. Then, once you are comfortable, introduce the rest of your new gear.
- Remember the pre-ride checklist. All bikers, no matter what their level of experience, should always remember to check these three items before riding. Make sure the wheels are properly inflated and that they spin freely. Ensure that your chain is secure and not overly greasy. For a quick check, rub your finger along it. It should leave just a slight bit of oil residue. Grab your front brake and maneuver the handlebar back and forth. If there is movement in the headset, loosen the stem bolts and secure the top cap until the headset is stabilized. Then retighten the stem bolts.
- Relax your hands and arms. New bikers are often guilty of maintaining a death grip. Try to keep your fingers, hands, and arms in a relaxed position. One of the best ways to do this is to start with your shoulders and consciously relax them, then do the same with your arms, hands, and fingers. Repeat this exercise as you feel your body tensing. Soon being relaxed will be second nature.
- Push yourself for gains, but allow your body time to recover. If you are new to biking and fitness, in general, you may find that you stick to level terrain. Remember that for best gains, you should adjust to moderate terrain, and adjust your speed and distance, as well. Remember, however, to allow your body time to recover between rides. It’s okay to feel a little muscle fatigue and soreness, especially as new cyclists, but if you begin to feel chronic soreness and fatigue, it’s best to take some time off to allow your body to recover.
- Conserve energy by soft pedaling. Bikers often get in a habit of pedaling fast and then coasting to conserve energy. This can cause undo fatigue as the muscles go from extreme use to rest and back again. Instead, try soft pedaling to conserve energy, and then accelerate as needed.
Follow these tips for new cyclists and you will be riding like a pro in no time! As a bicycle accident attorney and a biker myself, I remember fondly my early days of riding. There were many lessons learned, and I hope the wisdom I shared today will be helpful for you as you begin. Ride carefully, stay alert, and should you ever be involved in a crash, call upon the biker team at Kass & Moses for help.