Cycling – How to Start Riding
If you are getting back in the exercise game after a hiatus (or just a weekend warrior to only gets out irregularly for what may be some serious exercise), cycling is a great place to start. Unlike running or jogging, cycling is a low-impact sport that lets the bicycle take the heavy impact of the road while allowing your body to build strength and endurance. This means that many common injuries seen in athletes are minimized in cyclists.
Cycling is a wonderful sport that you can do with friends or relatives of all different athletic abilities-it's one of the few sports that you can actively participate with your young kids or older parents. Cycling can bring together friends for a friendly ride through the country or you can challenge yourself by competing in long distance or highly strenuous rides with avid-cyclists. Boris Johnson, mayor of London and host of the recent Olympic Games, has been credited with a massive resurgence of urban cycling in the city. London is going so far as to build 12 bicycle-only highways into the city center from outlying areas. This means that people every day are leaving their cars in the garage to cycle to work. For some, commutes may be up to one hour each way and these choices can result in an amazing exercise routine in the course of the day. (And, according to many Londoners, traffic can be so brutal that the commute times are often equal whether taking a car or a bicycle)
If you are interested in becoming a cyclist, we have a few suggestions for you:
1) Go out there and get on a bike. The first step to any exercise routine is to commit. So tell yourself that you're going to cycle three days a week, or that you'll ride your bike to work once a week while leaving the car at home, or that you'll train for a race. Whatever your goal is, make it attainable and stick with it!
2) Start Slow. As with any new exercise, your body needs time to adjust and build a new set of muscles. Even if you're already a runner or a soccer player, cycling will stress different muscles so it's always good to start slow and easy while letting your body grow stronger.
3) Have Good Gear. The most common cycling injuries arise from improperly fitting or wrong gear. Before you hop of your bike, head on down to a bike shop and ask questions. Does this helmet fit properly? What kind of sun glasses should I be wearing? Is this bike seat the right height? The professionals will help make sure you're your equipment is in good shape and will protect you from any potential falls.
4) Safe Riding Paths. Unless you're committed to urban riding from the start, it's probably smart to start your cycling routine on a designated cycling path--that way you avoid many of the common problems that affect urban riders, including heavy traffic, car doors, busy intersections, and car drivers who aren't used to driving with cyclists nearby. Additionally, as a new cyclist, you're still getting used to riding and to your bike. You may want to plan a route that focuses on relatively level ground and paved pathways. It will make the cycling easier on your first day-later on you may find that you love the hills and unpaved roads.