First Time Riders

Many seasoned cyclists have offered advice to Newbies.  Here is some of the best:

  • Use a bike that fits and works.
  • Do the maintenance.  Sure, you probably just pulled your bike out of the garage and rode when you were a kid.  But if you do that now, you're likely to become frustrated when your bike is much harder to ride than you thought it would be. Get a tune-up if you can ($40-80, depending on where you go and what you get). If you can't, at least make sure the tires are properly inflated and the brakes are working.
  • Inflate the tires.  You have to pedal harder to move the bike if the tires are under-inflated. You won't like it.  Don't do it.
  • Adjust the seat.  If the seat is too low, it's harder to pedal. When you're sitting on the saddle, and your heel is on the pedal in the lowest position, your leg should be nearly straight, but without locking the knee. Don't go too high, either.
  • Go slow. You're not in a race. Or at least, you shouldn't be, if you're just getting your bike out after a long hiatus.
  • Spin It, Baby.  You've probably heard of "spinning" as an indoor workout, done on exercise bikes. But it's also a good description of what you should be doing – you should be pedaling fairly easily and spinning along, not struggling to push the pedals around.  If it's too hard to pedal, you need to get into a lower gear, where it will be easier. It may feel like you are spinning your wheels and going too slowly, but it's still faster than walking!   And you'll get stronger as time goes by -- you'll be able to use higher gears eventually.
  • Get Rhythm.  The spandex crowd calls it cadence, measured in rpm’s.  If pedaling becomes difficult, shift down so that you can maintain that beat.  Pedal on lower gears, at higher cadences.  Pedal in circles, don’t stomp.
  • Breathe, because it's important to get plenty of oxygen, and it's helpful as a distraction from how hard you're working.
  • Keep changing your positions while riding. This is because while riding for long your hands and feet may get numb. In order to avoid this situation you need to move and change after every few minutes. For instance, move your hand around the bars and around the saddle, move your rear.
  • When cycling keep your head up, never look down.  Many people, while cycling, enjoy looking at their feet on the pedals.  This is especially common with children. It is advised to hold your head up high while cycling and to look far enough to see if any obstacles are coming your way.
  • Start riding it around the neighborhood to get comfortable on the bike and to see how far/long you can easily ride without being totally wiped at the end.
  • Try increasing your miles in 10% increments.
  • Make sure you bring at least one water bottle.
  • Wear a bright colored top.
  • You don't want to start a ride on an empty stomach. Ideally, eat 2 hours before riding – a banana and/or a PBJ sandwich are good fuel food.  Hydrate.  And make sure to eat after the ride.
  • Stretch your hamstrings, quads (against a wall), and calves before riding. This will loosen up your muscles and allow increased blood flow to your feet. Make sure your riding shoes are loose.
  • Add a layer before you're cold, take one off before you're hot.
  • Ride within yourself, especially in the first hour.
  • Never show off.