Road Cycling – Tips

Road cycling is fun and with some essential tips listed here for beginners, we will help you ensure you have the right kit, clothing, nutrition, techniques and more.

Clothing

On its own a well padded saddle will not stop your backside hurting when road cycling. Our advice is to buy some good padded clothingshorts to go with a decent saddle.

Always wear a helmet. This is not advice as a suggestion, but advice as a necessity. A quality helmet could save your life and most are comfortable, light and affordable.

Clipless pedals are the way forward. A lot of road bikes are moving away from toe-clips where you strap your shoe in. In contrast, clipless pedals are a system comprised of special pedals and cleats that attach to the soles of clipless cycling. You simply step on the pedals to click your feet securely in place and when engaged, your feet are connected to the pedals for optimum efficiency and no chance of your feet slipping off the pedals.

For road cycling, wise advice is to invest in a good pair of gloves. If you are going to be cycling on hardcore downhill trails consider knee and elbow pads too. Sports glasses do not cost much and will keep your eyes protected from insects, stones, sun and rain with different lenses for different conditions.

Your bicycle

Clean and oil your chain regularly, particularly when you have been riding in bad weather. This will stop the chain from creaking and will ensure chain-rings will not wear out so fast.

On the side of every cycle tyre is the recommended level for tyre pressure. A floor pump is a good investment, as it incorporates a pressure gauge, making it ideal for beginners.

Fit mudguards if you cycle in wet weather conditions. Follow this advice and you will save your clothes being caked in dirt as well as saving the people behind you getting sprayed too.

Cleaning your bike regularly with hot soapy water and a sponge. Beginners sometimes forget, but when grime is thick, you will need to use some cycling cleaning spray. Use a specialist degreaser for the drive-train (cassette, chain, crankset and so on).

Learn how to fix a puncture, and always carry a repair kit to include tyre levers, patches or new inner tube, and pump. You will be grateful for this advice when you get a flat tyre when out on your own. Beginners can visit any bicycle store or repair shop for advice if unsure. Or look online.

Nutrition

nutritionFor long-distance bicycle rides, eat little and often. Beginners in road cycling do not need special sports nutrition. Our advice is to pack a banana or cereal bar.

When you start riding harder or longer than your body is used to, you may suffer cramp. Common advice is to replace the electrolytes lost through sweating, either by drinking specially formulated sports drinks, or by making your own with fruit juice, water, and a little sugar and salt.

A recovery drink after a long, hard road cycle, plus rest, will help the body repair itself. This can be a premixed drink or a smoothie made with milk, a banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and some honey.

Cycling skills

Learn some basic cycling skills when road cycling in the city. Be assertive and learn the primary and secondary riding positions that will allow you to be both cautious and confident.

On the road, learn how to ride in a group if you want to stay motivated to continue road cycling. A friendly pack of riders is much more efficient, but requires cycling close to each other. Keep calm, do not make any sudden movements or brake unexpectedly.

Investigate local group rides. There are several options for group rides, including bike shop-hosted rides, club rides and pick-up rides, often for groups at differing competencies.

When road cycling, try to maintain around 70-90 revolutions per minute if you can. Anticipate big hills by shifting into a low gear just before you need it.

Road racing

If you want to try road racing, it is really helpful to have an experienced racer as a mentor. Having someone to help you learn the ropes significantly decreases your learning curve.

Rest is vital. Beginners in road racing train hard, but aim to decrease your training volume every third or fourth week so your body can rebuild and gain new levels of fitness.

For your first road cycling race, there are races that are advertised as ‘fun races’ where cyclists are separated by gender and sometimes by age. There will be a mix of beginners and those experienced where the race is far more important a focus than the fun.

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