A Guide on Cycling for Beginners

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According to the US Census Bureau, “Adults and teens will spend nearly five months (3,518 hours) next year watching television, surfing the Internet, reading daily newspapers and listening to personal music devices”. Scary thought. Though most of us enjoy television and the Internet, it’s difficult to imagine ourselves spending five of twelve months engaged in such activities. There’s so much more we could be doing with our time.

How many hobbies do we have? Do we even do hobbies anymore or is all of our free time spent on the couch in front of the television living vicariously through the beautiful, rich and ridiculously smug celebrities on our favorite shows? Okay, so maybe they’re not smug, but I think you know what I’m getting at. America, we need to get off of our duffs and get active!

A great hobby that anyone can take up is cycling. It’s relatively inexpensive, is easy to begin and it serves the dual purposes of providing a great work out while giving the rider a good time.

Cycling in my town is fantastic. Though it’s relatively small there’s a large network of trails throughout our rural areas. And these rural areas run throughout much of the city. Though these hidden paths provide stunning views of rivers, forests and streams, a rider is never truly more than a stone’s throw from civilization. Find out if your city or town has a trail system. Not every town will have one, but most have parks. Street cycling is an option as well, but there are many precautions to take before venturing on a road where you’ll be sharing space with cars and trucks.

So, what do you need to do to get started?

1. A bike. Sounds obvious, I know, but it’s not quite as simple as you may think. If you plan to make biking a regular part of your routine going to large, one-stop retailers isn’t the thing to do. Although these retailers are great when it comes to providing the basic necessities, they don’t know the different types of bikes that are available and aren’t equipped to help you find the best bike for your cycling needs. To purchase a bike it is best to go to a bicycle retailer who specializes in bike sales.

2. Decide what kind of cycling you want to do. Do you want to ride off road, on road? Perhaps you want to do both. The type of riding you plan to do should dictate the type of bike you decide to buy. There are a three types to take note of:

a. Road Bikes – For riding on paved streets. These bikes feature a lighter frame, slender tires and drop handlebars.

b. Mountain Bikes – For off-road riding. These bikes feature a frame better suited to handle rugged terrain. Mountain bikes have wider tires with knobby treads.

c. Hybrid Bikes – For both on road and off road cycling. These bikes combine the features of road bikes and mountain bikes. With wheels narrower than mountain bikes, these bikes are designed to go faster than mountain bikes, but maintain mountain bike gears to make it easier to navigate on different terrains.

3. Get fitted. When purchasing a bike it is important to do a test run so you’ll know if the bike is a good match for you. You must feel comfortable and confident when riding. If you don’t, that’s a sure sign that you should keep shopping. Once you do find the right bike, remember to have the sales person adjust the seat to your height.

4. Safety is always important. A good helmet will protect the head and remain in place during a fall. To ensure this standard is enforced, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has created safety standards for all helmets made or imported into the United States. Look for the CPSC label when shopping for helmets.

Bike riding is a fantastic sport that’s great for families, friends and athletes. Once you’re gliding down the trails with the wind on your face, your cares forgotten and your family/friends beside you not only will you feel healthier, but you’re also going to be glad you got out of the house. After that, I bet the television won’t be half as attractive as it once was.

Happy Riding!

A Quick Review by Editor:

I can’t believe I just found it! I just went our local bike shop today & bought a bike. I am 100 lbs over weight with diabetes, so this wasn’t a rash decision. I have been “training” for it for a couple of months. I started out on an exercise bike, I couldn’t ride for more than 5 min the first time, but 5 turned into 10, than I started walking, I am up to 2 1/2 miles walking now. I went for my first bike ride today, only lasted 30min going 6 mph, but I will get there. My goal is to ride 45 min a day 5 days a week & walking 3 mi the other 2.

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