Cycling might seem like a pretty straightforward activity, but it’s far from it. There’s a lot of training and preparation involved when it comes to going on long and difficult rides or races. Winging it isn’t an option if you want to be successful and avoid injury.
To get a good idea of how to make your cycling experience safer and more fulfilling, you should check out some of the tips we’ve got from expert cyclists.
Relax your grip
Common sense would tell you to keep your hands firmly on the handlebars while cycling, as it’s your only way to control the bike. However, as you start to get better and better, you’ll learn that you really don’t need to have a firm grip all the time. When there’s no traffic or you’re on a safe path, you can and should rest your arms on the handlebars from time to time.
It can be easy to tire out your hand muscles if you’re constantly holding on for dear life to the handlebars. After a while, your grip will loosen whether you like it or not, as no one has infinite endurance in their hands. Not to mention, the tighter your grip, the more vibrations you’ll feel while riding over uneven terrain. Practice resting your arms on the handlebars, and you’ll find that it will make longer trips much more tolerable.
Cycling can be a pretty demanding activity, which is why workout recovery is such a necessity. Plenty of cyclists spend hours on the road every single day. After a particularly long session of bike riding, it’s inevitable that you’ll be tired and sore for the rest of the day, possibly even longer. If you’re trying to get some rest, you should know that abstaining from cycling entirely might not be the best option.
An extreme workout should be followed with some light exercise. Instead of taking a day or two off from cycling to recover, you should go for a few short, light rides. They’ll help improve your muscle circulation, leading to a quicker and more comfortable recovery.
Clean after muddy rides
We’ve all been there—getting home after a long and gruelling ride through rain can leave an individual pretty exhausted. If you’re like most people, you’ll leave your bike out and go hop in the shower immediately to relax and freshen yourself up. However, you’d be better off cleaning the bike before you step inside, as it will only be harder to get stains out later.
While mud won’t do much damage to your bike in the short term, it helps to maintain elements like the chain to prevent any issues later on. Plus, getting dried mud off the bike the next day can be a tiresome task. Take the time to hose down your bicycle and lubricate the chain before you get inside the house. You’re going to thank yourself later for going through the trouble to save time.
Know your limits
It can be easy to forget that you don’t have infinite endurance when you’re excited about a race or cycling trip. You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road, regretting that you decided to take on an event above your calibre. It’s important to pace yourself and practice as much as possible before taking on a major challenge.
A good rule of thumb to test your limits is that you can normally handle a ride that is thrice the length of your average one. Anything above that might not be as comfortable as you imagine. Stick to this rule and slowly make progress until you can start doing marathons and major races.
One of the most important pieces of safety gear you can have on your bike is the headlight. It helps you navigate through darkness and illuminate the path in front of you. Setting it up can be a bit challenging, as you might not know where to aim. Conventionally, you should aim it far enough to allow you to ride at a high speed without worrying that you won’t see the road ahead.
At the same time, you’ll need a light that’s on eye level with most motorists on the road, for obvious reasons. A rear light is also recommended to catch the attention of motorists that are in your lane and behind you.
Get adequate gear
As any cycling enthusiast will tell you—gear is everything. You can’t get on the road if your bike can’t handle it or you don’t have adequate safety equipment. It’s simply not worth the risk, and it doesn’t provide a good experience for the cyclist.
Always start with the safety gear. Everything from knee pads to the helmet has to be accounted for before you go on a long ride, especially if it’s in a mountainous area. Your bike should be well-lubricated and ready to make the trip. If you intend to go on a long ride or marathon, always bring hydration that has enough electrolytes, as cycling can work up a sweat.
Remember that different kinds of bikes have different purposes. For travel on smooth, city roads, a bike with thin tires and not much suspension can do the job just fine. If you want to go mountain biking, however, it’s not an adequate choice. Cyclists that like to go through rough and uneven terrain are better off choosing proper mountain bikes, as they have what it takes to handle the ride. Keep all of these factors in mind when deciding where and how you want to go cycling.
Never stop stretching
Flexibility and joint health are extremely important factors to consider in every kind of physical activity. Even if cycling is relatively good on the joints, you still have to take care of them as often as possible. The most experienced cyclists know to stretch after every ride, as it helps your muscles and joints relax and increases flexibility.
Take the time to get a good stretch whenever you can. You’ll be more comfortable on the bike, and you won’t have trouble resting your muscles.
If you’re serious about getting into cycling, it’s important that you learn the ropes. There are plenty of things you have to pay attention to outside of moving the pedals. Keep some of the experts’ tips in mind, and you’ll find that your cycling experience will improve dramatically.