If you’ve decided to become a cyclist, welcome. This is the right place to start and we want to provide a complete guide on how to start cycling. This guide will walk you through the entire process of how to start cycling, the benefits you experience, and what you need to start cycling.
So here goes. Let’s start with a little history.
Cycles were introduced in the 19th century. Due to the affordability and simple mechanism of action, cycling quickly became popular. The very first documented cycle race was held in May 31, 1868 in Paris. However, cycling as a recreation became very popular with the masses as the cycles became cheaper and safer. As both genders were encouraged to use the bicycle, it quickly led to increased interaction within the sexes. Women of the time also praised the bicycle as an important contributor to the female suffragette movement. The restrictive clothing of corsets and layered clothing at the time then had to be adapted to allow women to use the bicycle and this led to a complete revamp of female clothing as well. However, not everyone liked cycling. There was stiff opposition to women using the cycle, however, this did not affect its popularity with the masses. With the advent of motor vehicles, cycling dropped in popularity. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence in recreational cycling as well as cycling in urban areas. Some countries like the Netherlands, France, UK and Spain now actively encourage their population to use bicycles to work and inside the city.
Benefits of Cycling
Any type of exercise is good for you, however, bicycling in particular is useful for several reasons.
• Exercise improves mental wellbeing. A recent study showed that physically active people had a higher wellbeing score as compared to inactive individuals. The physical exercise involved in cycling causes the release of happy hormones or endorphins that promote a positive mindset. Cycling also increases outdoor time which is beneficial to mental wellbeing.
• Cycling can influence weight loss. Cycling is a full body workout and it can definitely burn calories. On an average, about 400 to 1000 calories can be burned per hour depending on the rider weight, intensity of the route and distance covered.
• Muscle gain is another advantage seen in cycling. Cycling involves resistance and this can result in a tremendous amount of muscle mass formation in the leg and thigh region. As muscle formation increases, it also causes an increased amount of calorie burn and an increased amount of weight loss.
• Improved health is also seen as the exercise results in improved breath maintenance and lesser chest conditions. Cycling also improves heart rate and blood circulation and ensures better perfusion.
• For a certain group of people, routine exercise can be difficult. For example, people with osteoarthritis will find it difficult to do routine aerobic or Zumba workouts. Cycling, in contrast, is not weight bearing and it is significantly low impact on the joints.
Cons of Bicycling
• Cycling fatalities due to road accidents are common. However, the statistics are not worse than any other sports-related injuries. Physical trauma from cycling accidents and collisions are also common.
• Overuse injuries are also common. More than one-third of cyclists have reported overuse injuries in their knees, back or neck and women reported more injuries as compared to men.
• Exposure of air pollution is also a common problem. Cyclists are exposed to higher levels of air pollution specially if they use busy roads.
However, most of these problems are also associated with conventional sports. As a general rule of thumb, if biking is done carefully, then these associated dangers can also be mitigated.
How To Start Biking
• Find a local bike shop that has a good reputation. Remember that there are several different types of bikes made according to performance, weight and durability. Utility bikes are the most commonly available and the most affordable. They come fully equipped with mudguards and panniers for transport of goods. Road bikes are slightly different. They have a more upright shapes and have a shorter base. This makes the bike more mobile and faster. Some models have dropped handlebars which cause the rider to drop down while riding for better wind resistance. This shape also results in better core and back muscle development. Mountain bikes are much hardier and more designed for riding offroad. They also have better front and rear suspension and some models have fatter tires. Fitness bikes are lightweight versions of road bikes and are the best option for people who don’t like the dropped handlebars of conventional road bikes. Geared bikes are designed for racing and can be a little difficult for novices to use. As we’ve listed, the number of biking models are numerous and making a choice will be difficult. No matter which bike you choose, invest in the best quality bicycle and test ride the bicycle to ensure that it is a good fit. However, we recommend you choose the bike that fits the best and is most comfortable.
• Cost is an important factor. An entry level bicycle for beginners will coast anywhere from $500 to $600. Professional mid-level cycles that have a aluminum carbon fiber frame may cost around $1000 to $1500. Professional grade cycles used by athletes will cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000 or more.
• Check the saddle. Avoid saddles that are cushy and large with lots of padding. Use a firmer narrower seat as it will be the most comfortable. However, you will experience soreness in the first few days of cycling. Get the frame sizes and seat height adjusted to your height at the store to ensure optimum comfort.
• If you plan to cycle regularly, you will need several accessories to make the ride easier. Start by investing in a water bottle to keep you hydrated. You will also need an air pump to inflate tyres; saddlebags to hold extra accessories; biking shorts and tops; a safety helmet; bike shoes and pedals, gloves and safety glasses.
• Start slow. Limit your cycling to 20 minutes or less when setting out for the first time. You can also set a mileage goal of 5-8 miles per ride and then increase as you proceed. Try to add a little more distance as you progress but plan your time off to ensure your body can recover after rides. As your body gets used to the routine, you can then gradually increase the cycling duration and route. Initially start on a level surface and as you progress, you can change the terrain to inclines to improve your body’s endurance and resistance.
Current Situation of Bicycling.
As of 2010, there has been a gradual resurgence in cycling popularity. Due to climate change issues and the growing expense of fossil fuels, most developed countries have now started encouraging their population to use bicycles over short distances. As and added incentive, countries like Netherland have special cycling routes to ensure biker safety while riding. Commuters were also lured out of cars with increased access to secure bike parking, congestion-free routes for faster travel, and special go-slow rules for vehicles inside cities. Due to the increased number of sops, almost 27% of trips inside Netherland are via bikes. In developing countries like Berlin, Bogota and Taiwan, the number of cyclists has more than doubled as people have started actively opting for cycling over the use of fossil-fueled vehicles. However, this trend is yet to catch up in countries like India and China where fossil-fuel based cars are in high demand and bicycles are considered as a utility vehicle used by a poorer population.
The Future of Biking
Biking is going to be much more popular. The COVID-19 generated pandemic situation resulted in a boom in the use of bicycles. Due to worldwide lockdown, citizens resorted to bicycles as a mode of quick transportation. Cycling also provided a simple way to exercise while ensuring physical distancing to reduce risk. As times change, the use of bicycles will only become more popular with people who are now more aware of climate change issues and the dangers of fossil fuel use.