Best Cycling Tips and Insights
Want to ride? Here are some cycling tips and insights for those new to the sport.
There are many positive health-related effects from cycling, including reducing your risk of heart disease, boosting your immune system, and burning fat. Here are some additional benefits that you may not have thought about!
Sleep better: Spending time outside exposes you to daylight, which helps get your circadian rhythm back in order. This also helps rid your body of cortisol–the stress hormone that prevents deep sleep.
Increase your brain power & creativity. Cycling boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, firing and regenerating receptors. Cycling can be the much-needed break away from the pressures of “real life”, but it can also help you solve some of your tough conundrums at work or home.
Make new friends and be happy. Even if you’re in a low mood when you get started, riding will lift your spirits. If you join a local cycling group, not only will you make new friends and enjoy the exercise benefits, but the act of socializing will boost the hormone oxytocin, which is known to reduce anxiety. The social side of riding could be doing you as much good as the actual exercise.
Have fun, healthy family time. Cycling is an activity that the whole family can enjoy together. Young toddlers can ride along either on a bike seat or tow-along buggy. Parents’ riding habits will likely spill over to the kids as a positive exercise example.
Julie Spence, acac Group Exercise Director in Charlottesville, Virginia, tells us, “Ever since I got my bike I love to ride outside. It is the best to meet up with friends to go for a ride, or even by myself to zone out and enjoy the view. I ride mostly out in the Crozet countryside, so taking in the sights of the mountains, wineries, and beautiful farms is one of my favorite parts of riding. I am also a hill junkie (I know, weird) so any chance to climb a hill on my bike I will take! It always feels good to get to the top!”
Getting Started: Indoors
If you have been considering a cycling class at your club, now is the time to go for it! Some words of wisdom from acac cycle instructors:
Don’t be afraid of not knowing what to do or not being able to keep up. You can adjust your resistance at pace to your level.
Go early to class to meet your instructor. Ask them to set you up on one of the bikes to make sure you’re in the best, most comfortable and efficient position.
Worried about your bum? Yes, your backside might be sore after the first few classes. That soreness will eventually go away. You can also buy padded biking shorts or use a padded bike seat.
Have fun! “I always say to my cycle classes, you don’t have to be listening to 100% of what I say. Just work hard, do what you can, and have fun.” – Julie Spence.
Click one of the links below to view your closest club’s group class schedule, including cycle classes:
Getting Started: Outdoors
Purchasing a bike: One of the most confusing things may be figuring out what kind to get. Ask yourself these questions:
Where are you most likely to ride? – How tall are you? – What is your budget?
Where you ride will help determine the style of bike best suited for you.
Your height and budget come in to play after you determine your preference in bike style.
Road Bikes are designed for riding on paved streets at a swift speed. Road bikes are ideal if you prefer to travel longer distances at a higher speed. These bikes feature skinny tires, a lightweight frame and a riding position placing you bent over the handlebars. Most road bike frames do not last well with heavy loads for a long period of time or on rough surfaces.
Mountain Bikes are designed to ride on rugged trails comfortably. They typically have wide tires with knobby treads and a strong, stout frame. Your body is seated more upright with the straight handlebars on a mountain bike. These bikes do not ride as fast as a road bike.
Hybrid Bikes offer the best combined features of road and mountain bikes. Since hybrids have skinnier, smooth tires, they usually can go faster than mountain bikes. Yet they feature the upright seat and handlebar position of a mountain bike.
Cruisers have wide seats, wide tires, upright handlebars, and often just one gear. Cruisers are easier to maintain than other styles. They work best on flat terrains and are better for anyone more interested in comfort than speed. You often see cruisers at the beach!
Not ready to buy? Ask around! Talk with friends or co-workers who ride outside. If you know of anyone with similar stature to you, ask to borrow their bike for a day. Try an easy ride to a familiar destination (and preferably with someone else.) You can also try visiting your local bike shops to explore your options. They will let you test-ride to see what styles you prefer.
Have a bike, now what? Before you hop on, make sure that you have the essentials for safety and comfort…
- Solid soled shoes (not running shoes!)
- Padded cycling shorts (ideal for road or mountain biking)
- ID, and possibly cash and a cell phone depending on where you are headed
- Tire / bike repair kit
Check out these resources in your area: