Cycling has always provided a feeling of freedom and adventure and it is gaining more and more popularity as a way of keeping fit. It is a sport that provides you with not only a practical form of transport but also a liberating sensation of fun and adventure. Here is a beginner’s guide to demystify some of the more technical aspects of cycling and provide you with an entry point to get involved.
1. A quick guide to the different types of bikes
More experienced cyclists will have their preferred type of bike. The main types are roadbike, mountain bike, hybrid bike and town bike. Those new to cycling are likely to feel most comfortable on either a bybrid or a town bike as they tend to offer a slightly less aggressive body position and are easier to control.
It’s worth reading more about bike types to make sure you know exactly what you are in the market for. You also can’t go wrong with enquiring of the bike shop experts who can give you an informed explanation of each type of bike. If you aren’t in the market to buy there is the option to rent a bike too.
2. Wear a helmet and carry lights
Although not mandatory in the UK, it is advisable to wear a helmet, especially if you are riding around towns and cities. It will protect your head and also give you an extra feeling of confidence when you are out and about.
If you are riding at night time, it’s advisable to wear some bright and colourful kit and also to have appropriate lighting on your bike. This normally means a red light at the back and a white light at the front to let cars and pedestrians know you are there.
3. Cycle with a group or with friends
Cycling is a sport that is perfectly suited to socialising. It’s an opportunity to get a group of friends together to go on an adventure, even if it’s just to your local park. It might also be worth looking into joining a club where you can meet new people to introduce you to new routes and encourage you to keep at it and get fit.
4. Stick to less busy roads
If you live in a city or busy town, it’s inevitable that you will have to travel alongside traffic at some stage. However, there are plenty of ways to avoid busy junctions and take a quieter route to your destination. Google maps can suggest a more bike-friendly route if the thought of travelling in heavy traffic sounds daunting. Respect the rules of the road and stay visible as best as you can.
5. Make sure your clothing is bike-friendly
There is a reason why cyclists wear lycra and bright jackets – it’s because, a) it’s more practical and b) you will be seen. Cycling apparel tends to vary according to what bike your riding but in the roadbike and hybrid community it tends to be a pair of padding lycra leggings or shorts, a light weight jersey, a jacket for warmth and quite often a foldable rain jacket in case the heavens open.
Shoes for the begginner can be trainers and those that are thinking of taking it to the next level on a roadbike can consider cycle shoes and cleats but see our improve your cycling guide for more about that.
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This article has been updated with new content since originally being published in February 2016.