Cycling has gained popularity over the past couple decades (read the benefits here) as the best mode of transportation for many, but it has quickly become a very competitive sport and leisure activity.
Cycling dates back to the early 19th century, with the creation of the first two wheeled human powered transporting tool by Baron Karl Von Drais in Germany, however the popularity of these machines quickly died down as laws were enacted to prohibit its usage.
The most significant “bike boom” age occurred between the years of 1965 – 1975, with over 7 million bicycles being sold in the United States alone in the first 5 years, and doubled by 1974.
Now in the 21st century, bikes have successfully claimed and maintained their place in the modern world, and can be found in many of the major countries and continents, as well as in poorer civilizations.
With over 12.4% of the US population participating in cycling, whether for leisure or competitively, cycling has become a common part of our everyday lives.
In order to start and maintain cycling safety, and to improve your general cycling experience, here are some tips that will ensure you have the best time when you get on that bike.
Cycling Tips From An Athlete
Cycling Gear & Maintenance
In order to ensure you have minimal to no problems on the road, you have to make sure your bike is in tip top shape. This includes having the right cycling gear and taking good care of it. Pay specific attention to certain key issues such as:
Getting your chain oiled and cleaned regularly:
The truth is that a dirty and grimy chain can decrease your efficiency and limit how well you’re able to do, whereas a clean and well-oiled chain ensures you perform optimally.
You can choose to clean your chain whether on or off the bike, but this depends on your bike’s manufacturer and which method would be best used.
Chains that are taken off the bike are normally placed in a jar and shaken with degreaser to remove excess dirt, but now with more advancements in technology, chains that cannot be removed require a new method of cleaning.
These chains can be cleaned using a cleaning device specifically for chains, such as a rotating brush that works with the degreaser to remove excess dirt.
Clean your bike regularly:
While cleaning your chain is paramount, the rest of your bike needs to be cleaned too. A simple wash with warm water, soap, and a sponge will get the job done, but pay attention to special areas in the drivetrain that may need a little more cleaning than the rest of your bike.
Ensure your tire pressure is good:
Before checking, take a look at the recommended levels and then adjust yours accordingly. A floor pump may come in handy for situations where you’re not at the ideal levels.
Mudguards & Fenders:
If you’re lucky enough to live in a country with summer all year, then you can skip this section, but for those who experience harsh winters, heavy rain, and snow, this section is for you.
Make sure that your bike is winter ready by fitting your fenders and mudguards during the winter/rainy season.
This will increase the overall longevity of your bike, and significantly reduce any discomfort you have when cycling, so the quicker you do this, the better your ride will be.
Know how to fix a puncture:
This one might be a bit more tricky but it’ll be helpful in the long run. Make sure to also travel with a repair kit with patches and a pump, you’ll be thankful if you get stranded on a lonely path.
Cycling Clothing Tips
Now that you know how to care for and protect your new bike, having the right clothing is the next step to perfecting your cycling experience.
While there’s a significant amount of cycling clothing on the market, there are some specific items you will need to improve your experience. These include:
This is non-negotiable. A quality and well-fitted helmet may be the difference between living after an accident or dying on the spot, and while it’s optional, this should be your first pick for safe and important cycling clothing.
Getting some padded shorts are sure to reduce some of the pain you may feel during riding, and paired with a decent saddle, will make your cycling experience a lot more enjoyable.
Be sure to pay special attention to the chamois, leg grippers and stitching to ensure you get the right one for your size and body structure.
If your cycling is specific to roads and simple routes, clipless pedals may prove to be effective in increasing your pedaling efficiency. Clipless pedals allow you to utilise more key muscles to get the most out of your cycling, so have a look at the best ones and choose the most convenient and ideal type.
While finding the ideal technique might be very confusing, it’s important to not just listen to the pros, but to adjust their advice with methods that are best for you, and that make you most comfortable when riding.
To find your perfect cycling method however, you have to pay attention to some key factors. These include:
This process includes finding the right bike fit for you, from adjusting and trying different seats to fit your specific body type to frames, seating height and even fitting pedals and aligning your cleats.
All these factors have an impact on your riding style and positioning, so take it all into consideration when figuring out your technique.
Maintain your Cadence:
Your cadence/pedalling rate should average around 70 – 90 revolutions per minute, but if you’re a beginner, find your rate and work with it.
Maintaining your cadence is an ideal way to measure if your technique and strategies are working, and should lead to improvement after a while.
Get some cycling friends:
Riding alone is a good way to focus and teach yourself certain techniques, but riding with others is a great way to improve your cycling, and can teach you other techniques and methods if you pay attention, not to mention you’ll have more fun along the way. Grab a riding buddy, or a couple, and have some fun.
Cycling Safety Tips
Cycling can become so enjoyable that we forget one key factor; protection. While many countries have rules and laws governing cycling, others don’t, which increases the likelihood of accidents and fatalities to many bikers.
Safety should never be overlooked, so here are some safety tips that are essential for all cyclists.
Cycling at night:
Many persons tend to enjoy going for night time rides, but before you strap up and head out ensure that you have the correct gear and lighting needed for your adventure. You will need:
● Reflective Clothing – This ensures that you’re seen by motorists and drivers when you’re on your trek. These can be found at your local biking shop or online, and are crucial when heading out for a late night ride.
● Frontal cycling lights – Motorists need to see you, but you also need to see where you’re going. If your route involves tunnels and dimly lit areas, make sure you get the best white lights for the path ahead, but even if your route doesn’t require lighting, it is illegal in a lot of countries to ride without proper lighting, so ensure your biking gear is in accordance with the law.
● Rear red reflector lights – As with the frontal lights, rear reflector lights are a necessity, and are also illegal to ride without in many countries.Ensure your light is clean and bright, so that other motorists and pedestrians can see you.
Cycling in traffic:
Whether you use cycling as transportation or leisure, traffic is almost inevitable. To reduce your risk for accidents, follow these rules of the road.
● Pay attention to bike lanes & road signs –
Many highly populated and heavily trafficked cities have introduced bike lanes to prevent collisions and accidents.
There have also been an increase in road signs and preventative measures to ensure your bike ride isn’t your last. Pay attention to these lanes and learn these signs to decrease the likelihood of any issues.
● Yield to Pedestrians –
Not only are you susceptible to getting hurt, but so are pedestrians. Pay attention to pedestrian crossings, stop lights and stop signs just as other vehicles, and make sure someone has safely crossed before continuing on your ride.
● Ride with some space –
If there are no bike lanes in your area, use the road but do so carefully. There’s nothing wrong with riding in an empty or subtly trafficked lane, just don’t go squeezing between two cars, or riding in the middle of the road. Make sure you stay away from car doors, and ride safely and smartly on the roads.
Wrapping Up: Our final advice for cycling enthusiastic
Cycling is quickly becoming one of the most convenient and effective exercises and sports to participate in, and with these cycling tips, you’re sure to make the most of your experience every time you hit the road. Stay safe and happy cycling!