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Hello world! Here is your gateway to road cycling 101! Welcome to the world of road bikes and road bike cycling! I’ve tried to make this guide in a way that everyone can get something out and find beneficial. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist looking to switch to road cycling, a complete beginner or a professional rider who wants to brush up on the basics, this guide might inspire you (or at least I am hoping that it would)! Remember to share this guide with cycling tips with your friends and family who you want them to start riding with you!
Before I started road cycling, I looked at many resources and got help from my environment. I watched many videos on YouTube and read many articles online. Now I am here to share my knowledge with you!
Road cycling can be a fun and competitive sport, but it’s important to have a good foundation of knowledge and skills before you hit the road. In this beginner’s guide, I’ve tried to cover everything you need to know to get started with a road bike, from choosing the right bike and equipment to following the road rules.
Alright, let’s get started! I aimed to create a beginner’s guide by addressing the topic of getting started with road cycling in general terms. If you are new to road cycling and would like to chat with an experienced person, you can contact me at any time. Get ready to become the rider!
Let’s start with some very basics:
What is road cycling?
Road cycling is a type of cycling that takes place on paved roads. It can involve leisurely rides, commuting, or competitive racing. I am one big fan of competitive racing. I will be telling about my experience with Granfondos and local races in the following weeks. Road cyclists use lightweight bikes with narrow tires and drop handlebars to maximize speed and efficiency. I myself own a white 55 size Rose bike. Modern bikes have come a long way since early 2000s. Material and build quality, aerodynamics, and shifting tech have improved tremendously. I talk about what road cycling is in my article that you can read here.
Which road bike should I get started with?
Well, it might actually depend on your expectations from yourself and your bike. If you are going to ride it to commute, you might as well ger a simple road bike. After investigating a bit, you might even change your mind and consider getting a hybrid bike, a mountain bike or a Fixie! Your needs should determine the type of bike that you get started with.
You should also think about factors like your budget, the type of riding you plan to do, and the features you want in a bike. If you are just starting out, it is best to choose an entry-level road bike that is lightweight and has good components. Look for bikes with aluminum frames, carbon forks, and Shimano components. Those are very good for a beginner. You might as well get a cheap road bike at the beginning and upgrade as you get more professional.
My first bike was also something similar to that. Make sure the frame fits you properly and that the handlebars are comfortable for your hands. Finally, make sure the bike has enough gears for the terrain you plan to ride on. Then, you are good to go.
How to search for and buy a road bike?
Consider factors such as your budget, the type of terrain you will be biking on, and your own physical characteristics (such as your leg and torso height and weight).
If I were you, I’d start by asking around. If you already know a person who rides a road bike, ask for their advice, see what they are using and try to understand what kind of a bike would be good for you. You might as well get your local bike shop’s advice. They usually know what the best options are for a beginner cyclist.
Should I ride solo or with a cycling club?
Riding solo or with a cyclist group is a personal choice. Riding solo can be great for those who want to explore and challenge themselves, while riding with a group can be beneficial for those who are new to road cycling and want to learn from more experienced cyclists.
When riding solo, you have the freedom to go at your own pace and take breaks when needed. You also don’t have to worry about keeping up with the group or having someone else dictate your route. However, it can be more difficult to stay motivated and safe when riding alone.
On the other hand, riding with a group has its advantages as well. You can benefit from the collective knowledge of experienced riders and get tips on how to improve your technique. Additionally, you will have companionship on long rides which can make them more enjoyable. Furthermore, there is safety in numbers when it comes to road cycling; if something goes wrong, you will have help nearby.
Ultimately, it is up to you whether you choose to ride solo or with a cyclist group. Consider what type of experience you are looking for and make sure that whichever option you choose is safe and enjoyable for you!
Now let’s dig a little bit deeper. My intention is to cover these topics individually in different articles but here are some basics to get you started:
Get a full bike fit
Bike fit can help make your rides more efficient and comfortable. To get a bike fit, you can visit a bike shop or ask a bike trainer for help. Make sure that the bike frame size matches your height and weight. They’ll also help you with other small adjustments that will make a great difference in your road ride!
Learn how to change gears
Road bikes typically have multiple gears that can help you get over hills and vary your speed. Learn about your bike’s gear shifting system and practice shifting while riding. Your average cadence will play a big role for your joint health, especially for your knees. It can be described as your count of total pedal revolutions per minute. Rule of thumb for a ‘good’ average cadence is 85 to 90. One of t he common mistakes cyclists make is buying their first bike with a gearing that would fit professional cyclists’ needs and performance.
Make sure you have enough easy gears so you don’t run out of them when you need them the most: Climbing. When you’re climbing and finding it really hard to spin the pedals you don’t want to face the cold reality of running our of gears when you move your shift levers.
Learn how to brake
Braking on a road bike is different than braking on other types of bikes. To brake safely, you should use both brakes at the same time and apply pressure evenly to both brakes. Start by squeezing the front brake lever gently and then gradually increase pressure until you reach the desired speed. Make sure to keep your weight balanced over the bike and avoid locking up your wheels. Additionally, practice braking in a safe area before taking your bike out on the road.
One of the big mistakes that beginner cyclists make is using the brakes a lot more than it is necessary. At high speeds, especially in downhill sections, pulling hard on the rear brake will lock your rear wheel and destabilize your posture entering a corner. On the other hand, pulling hard on the front brake (usually the left brake lever) will make you slide sideways especially if your weight is shifted towards the center of a corner. Adjust your speed before entering a corner, not while you’re in it. I’ve learned this the hard way, you don’t have to.
Road bikes often have caliper brakes or disc brakes. Practice using your brakes and feel how much pressure it takes to stop in a straight downhill segment with various speeds.
Invest in the right equipment
1. Road Bike Helmets
2. Cycling Shoes / Road Bike Shoes
3. Padded Shorts
4. Cycling Jersey & Bike Shorts
5. Water Bottle and Cage
6. Bike Pump
7. Tire Levers
8. Spare Tubes and Patch Kit
9. Multi – Tool
10. Bike Lights and Reflective Gear
These are very important! But, helmets are a must, and you can also consider cycling gloves, sponge cycling tights, bike computers, bike locks, chainrings, clipless pedals, and more bike gears. Initially, you can procure this type of equipment from stores such as Decathlon. If you want to become even more professional afterward, you can explore at your nearest bike shop or ask around and purchase online.
Learn basic bike maintenance
You should know how to replace a flat tire, adjust your bike’s seat and handlebars, and perform other basic maintenance tasks. Rural roads will hit you at the least expected time. Better be ready than sorry! This information will provide you convenience and save time. Of course, you can always ask your driving buddies for help too. Also, please check your bike chain after every few hundred kilometers. When that snaps, there’s no remedy on the road! You may have to walk for tens of kilometers.
Plan your rides
Plan routes that suit your skill level and the type of terrain you’re comfortable with. Start with shorter rides and gradually increase your distance as you become more comfortable. You can use apps like Strava to plan these types of rides. In addition, you can join cycling groups in your city and discover new routes.
Learn what to eat during rides
One of the great benefits of cycling is being able to burn a lot of calories. However, it is important to fuel your body during long rides. Eating a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats will help you stay energized and focused on the road. Before a ride, eat a light meal with good amount of carbohydrates so you won’t be hitting the wall (we’ll be touching this topic in the future blog posts) in a quick bit.
During the ride, snack on energy bars, energy gels or cereal bars for quick bursts of energy. After the ride, replenish your body with protein-rich foods such as eggs or yogurt. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and during your rides.
Stay safe in the traffic
As a road cyclist, you must follow the same traffic rules as drivers. For this reason, you should be conscious about traffic. Make sure you understand and follow these rules to stay safe while driving. Being a member of a cycling club can be an advantage especially when you’re beginning your cycling journey. The more people that you ride with, the more road experience & concious you’ll acquire in a safe manner.
Try to be consistent and don’t over-reach
As a beginner road cyclist, it is important to start off slowly and gradually increase your distance and intensity as you become more comfortable. Start with shorter rides and focus on mastering the basics such as shifting gears, braking, and bike maintenance. As you progress, consider joining cycling groups in your city or using apps like Strava to plan longer routes. Additionally, make sure to fuel your body with a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats before and after each ride. Finally, be mindful of traffic laws and stay safe while riding on the road.
Beginner mistakes to avoid as a road cyclist
- Not wearing a helmet: Wearing a helmet is essential for safety while cycling, so make sure you always wear one when riding.
- Not checking your bike before rides: Before each ride, check your bike to make sure it’s in good working order and all the parts are properly tightened.
- Riding in the wrong gear: Make sure you know how to shift gears correctly and use them appropriately for different terrain and speeds.
- Not following traffic rules: As a road cyclist, you must follow the same traffic rules as drivers, so be aware of these rules and stay safe on the roads.
- Eating the wrong food during rides: It’s important to eat the right foods during long rides to keep your energy levels up and avoid fatigue or cramps. Make sure you have enough snacks with you that will provide sustained energy throughout your rides.
I hope this guide for road cycling beginners helps you and gives you the knowledge and confidence you need to get on the road. Remember to start slow, practice good cycling technique, and never be afraid to ask for help or advice. With time and practice, you will be well on your way to becoming a competent and safe road cyclist.
You can contact me at any time for other tips or just to chat. If you want to be informed about other articles that I will publish on my blog, you can leave your e-mail address in the box below.
Happy riding! Let’s hit the pedals! Make sure to follow along for more cycling tips!