When you are just getting into cycling, it can seem overwhelming. You see experienced bikers cruising past you in their sleek outfits and funky helmets, and you wonder if you’ll ever get there. You can, for sure, if that’s your end goal, or you can be a leisure cyclist. Whatever your goal is, start with little steps and work your way towards long distances.
To get your feet wet, or pedaling really, why not grab a friend or two and set aside a day to go on a bike ride. It can be as long or short as you want, but have a goal in mind and choose an appropriate route. Your goal can be as simple as heading to the ice cream stand three miles up the street, or trying out that fifteen mile loop in the bird sanctuary. Whatever it is, make it something that you actually want to do, which will make it seem more like a fun trip rather than extended exercise.
Plan a Route: Before you head out, decide how far you’d like to quest, and where you’d like to go. Having a plan ahead of time will keep you on track and working towards your end goal. Look suggested local bike routes, or even take a drive and look for the routes you’d be most comfortable taking. Knowing the route ahead of time will make you less reliant on a GPS which can help you feel at ease by cycling in a familiar area.
Be Prepared: While we like to hope for the best, we can’t always plan on it. Pack extra water and snacks, and have a backup plan in the unfortunate event of a bicycle malfunction. Either have a friend you can call who will come help you out, or be prepared to make the repairs yourself by being knowledgeable about your bicycle and having the necessary tools to do so. Planning for the worst and hoping for the best is a pretty good approach to a lot of things, and cycling is no exception.
Don’t Rush: There’s a good chance you’ll see other cyclists on the road, and there’s a good chance they may be speeding past you at top speed. Remember, it is not a race, and everyone has their own goals. You don’t have to match their goals; you have to meet your own. Keep a steady pace, and do what is comfortable for you. You can be leisurely if you want, you’re just starting out on this new adventure!
Stop for Lunch: If you’re going on a ride that lasts a few hours, either pack a picnic and look for a nice place along the way, or find a place to grab a meal. It will break up the journey, and give you a chance to rest and refuel. Be selective in your meal though, as you won’t want something that would cause you discomfort on the ride afterwards. You’ll find yourself ready to continue after you’ve had a chance to rehydrate yourself and eat something.
Take Breaks as Needed: Don’t be afraid to stop on the side of the road, in a safe area of course, to take a breather or grab some water. You don’t have to marathon through it. You may find the experience to be more enjoyable when you’re not overexerting yourself.
While you may feel overwhelmed at first hopping on a bike, you may just find with a little planning relaxation that it’s actually not as intimidating as you thought. It’s great exercise, you can explore new places, all while getting some fresh air. It doesn’t get much better than that.