The bicycle has been around in one form or another for the better part of the last century and a half. While many understand the wellness and transportation aspects of cycling, it can be difficult to find a comfortable place to get started. Below, I offer an easy-to-follow guide for getting started in cycling. Plus! Some best practices to consider when buying a bike.
Buying a bike
These days, the options for buying a bike are almost endless and it can be overwhelming trying to understand the marketing lingo that the cycling industry loves to use. I highly recommend going to your local bike shop and talking to them about what options are best for you. Often these shops are helpful in picking the right bike and will help you with sizing, options, and also answer any other questions you might have surrounding your start with cycling. By going to a local bike shop you will be supporting your local community by buying a bike from a smaller bike shop.
A general guideline to follow when buying a bike to determine proper size is to make sure you don’t feel any sort of neck and shoulder pain when riding around on your bike. You should be able to comfortably hop on and off, and it doesn’t feel too long or too short. Remember that if you haven’t ridden a bike in some time (or even at all), the seat will probably feel uncomfortable. That’s an item that can be replaced, but before you do that, ride the bike around for about a month or so and let your body adjust to your position on the bike. You’d be surprised by just how much your body can adjust to a new experience!
Other things to keep in mind with any bike purchase is that the brakes work, the gears change without much trouble, and the tires stay inflated. If they don’t, that’s how you know you need to replace the inner tube of the tire. Once all of those items are taken care of, you can move on to thinking about what else you might need in order to ride a bike.
Almost equally important as finding the right bike is understanding that your budget should include some room for purchasing accessories paramount to your riding. A good helmet can be relatively inexpensive these days and is extremely important to have. A good-fitting helmet should fit almost like a hat and they usually have adjustable retention systems (kind of like hats!) to dial in the fit. These are sually found on the back of the helmet. Helmet straps don’t need to be tied down tightly. The helmet should mostly stay in place with the retention system, so you can let your chin and neck breathe.
Some other useful items to get started include a bike lock, a spare inner tube, and lights. If you plan to ride around at night or early in the morning, lights are key!
These are all important accessories but not necessary for your first ride out.
If you plan on using the bike for commuting or running errands, think about the front or rear racks. These are useful for putting baskets on, as baskets alone cannot handle the weight of backpacks or groceries. If you live in a wet climate and are considering winter riding, look into fenders for your wheels. Fenders keep road spray and water from splashing onto your clothing and can keep you drier in a wet environment. Not to mention, the discomfort of wet hands and feet makes winter cycling an almost-unbearable activity. For any of these items, make sure your bike has rack and fender mounts. These can found near your front and rear wheel axles and are usually threaded holes in your bike frame.
If you are stuck or having trouble figuring out if your bike can take racks and fenders or need suggestions for reputable brands, reach out to your local bike shop. They are all knowledgeable and fantastic sources for help.
Cycling On the Road and Beyond
Now that you have your bike and helmet and are ready to go out on your first ride, you might be wondering what the best practices are for finding routes to take and general road safety. Bicycle lanes are common in many cities and metropolitan areas, but be sure to look into your local road rules for the specifics, as they can often differ from city to city. In terms of popular bike routes, there are plenty of resources that offer maps, directions, and more.
Google Maps offers a rather intuitive and updated bike route option when searching for directions, as do other mapping services. Local cycling groups also usually have certain ride routes of varying lengths for riders of all abilities. A quick Internet search of ‘local cycling groups’ can take you to websites where they offer safe and fun routes to follow of varying lengths and difficulties. Lately, many cities and metropolitan areas are expanding their bike paths and lanes to offer safer and easier ways for folks to ride their bicycles.
Now go ride!
With all of these decisions made, all that’s left to do is to go out and ride your bike!
Cycling and music are inherently connected, so you can read more about music’s value to self-expression, healing, and astrology here.