How to Start a Cycling Hobby

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Whether you’re looking for a new hobby, stronger exercise routine, or a better way to get to work, cycling is an exciting solution. Bicycling is a worldwide sport and pastime, spanning from China to Norway. Why is it so popular? Because it has incredible health and lifestyle benefits that can’t be ignored. Use this guide to help you start cycling.

The Benefits Of Cycling

And other countries worldwide are definitely not ignoring it. In fact, Top10Hell reported that America has one of the lowest rates of cycling in the developed world. 99.1% of the Netherlands population owns a bike, and 27% of all trips (25% of all trips to work) are made by bike. In America, the population is roughly only 32.2% bikers, with less than 1% of all traveling trips made per bike.

Also consider that America is the most obese country in the world. In addition, Americans spend about $2,600 per year commuting by car and have some of the highest stress levels worldwide.

The conclusion? More Americans should be bicycling.

And you’re going to be one of them!

Here’s why you start cycling:

Health

Bicycling weekly can improve obesity and create healthier societies. Biking at a moderate pace burns about 650 calories per hour, whereas running burns about 355 and swimming 410 calories. Biking is an aerobic, cardio workout that can tone muscle, build bones, increase strength, improve balance, and boost endurance.

In addition, biking is a low impact way to get exercise. It doesn’t put weight or pressure on your joints and bones, like walking or running does. This makes it a great solution for long-term exercise routines, especially for individuals with injuries or health concerns.

Happiness

Biking also triggers the release of endorphins—aka the feel-good hormone. Cyclists often get addicted to this endorphin-high because they feel so happy, free, and energized.

In addition, biking gives you time to take in the fresh air and appreciate your surroundings at a slower pace. Combined with endorphins, this has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve mental health. Learn more about biking’s positive effects mood, self-esteem, depression, and anxiety with this Momentum Mag article.

Commuting

Biking is the best way to commute! It’s green and eco-friendly, and you’ll avoid rush hour traffic. Plus, it will give you a great time to clear your head and get some exercise in before work.

It also saves you the traditional expenses of a car like gas, parking, repairs, and insurance. Did you know that your insurance rates go up if you commute to work in your car? Cut your auto premium by biking to work instead!

Growth

Plus, cyclists can find themselves in new places in a breeze. You can explore unique locations that you wouldn’t have access to by car or train. You can also meet people from all walks of life who come together to group cycle.

Doesn’t that sound great? Get healthy, get happy, be green, save money, meet new people, and see new places!

So how do you start cycling?

Decide The Biking Type 

What type of biker do you want to be? Think of your personal reasons for wanting to start cycling. For example, if you’re looking to get exercise and see new places, then mountain biking may be the right decision for you. If you want to get a better feel for your town, maybe you’ll start cycling as a roadie (those bikers you see riding along the road).

Or maybe you’ll be a commuter, who uses cycling in a practical way to get from point A to point B. Or maybe you’re a social rider looking for group biking sessions so you can make friends while getting some exercise. Or maybe you want to start cycling strong and be a racer or touring biker (although we don’t usually recommend this right when you start cycling).

Deciding what kind of biker you want to be will help you determine the gear you should buy and groups you should join.

But whatever type you decide… Make sure that once you start cycling, you stick to it. 100 million Americans “bike” per year, but only 14 million bike at least twice a week. That’s a lot of people who want to bike but give up quickly. Don’t give up. Remember that biking is an investment in your health, your happiness, and the world around you.

Buy The Gear

You’ll need to buy gear when you first start cycling. Thankfully, after this first expenditure, upkeep and upgrades are inexpensive—and definitely less expensive than a car! You’ll need: a bike, helmet, U-lock, lights, bells, clothing, shoes, and extras.

Bike

The most important part about buying a bike when you first start cycling is the proper fit. You need the frame to be the right size so it can be properly fitted to your body. This will help prevent injuries, pain, and soreness. You also want to find a fitted saddle (where you put your butt) for a more comfortable ride. Go to a bike shop so they can help fit you with the right bike for your cycling needs.

Helmet

Of the approximate 720 biking fatalities per year, only 17% were wearing helmets at the time of crash. Helmets protect your head and face in the case of a crash, and they drastically reduce your risk of serious injury. Many states have bike helmet laws to protect cyclists and motorists. Even if your state doesn’t require it, you should wear a helmet anyway. This is especially true for long rides, mountain rides, and rides in heavily trafficked areas. Buy a helmet with a secure and comfortable fit, and never ride with a cracked helmet.


U-Lock

One of the best parts of biking is that you can park your bike anywhere, at no cost! Purchasing a U-Lock means you can protect your bike from theft no matter where you leave it.

Lights and Bells

You should always keep LED lights on your bike, especially for early morning and nighttime riding. Lights and reflectors on the back and front of the bike help make you visible on the roadway, thus reducing your risk of accidents. Bells also give you an audible way to signal to other cyclists and motorists, helping you stay safe while you ride.


Clothing

If you’ll be out for long rides, you want appropriate clothing. Baggy clothes can get caught in the pedals or gears, causing tears, damage, or injury. If you’ll be biking as a sport, you’ll want to wear lightweight fabrics like spandex to keep you cool and dry. When you first start cycling, you’ll find that bib or biker shorts can completely change the way you ride. If you’ll be riding in the winter, wear fabrics that retain heat and wick away moisture.

You may also want to buy bike gloves to prevent chapped hands and to give you a better grip on the handlebars. You should also invest in bike glasses, which protect you from gunk flying in your eyes, potentially causing you to have an accident.


Shoes

There are clipped shoes and clipless shoes. The clipped shoes attach to your pedals so it’s easy for you to support your feet, helping you avoid injury and foot fatigue. Ask an expert at your local bike store for help finding the right shoes for the bike you pick.


Extras

Don’t forget about all the other things that keep your bike going, such as inflators, CO2, and more. In the future, you can upgrade your gear to include GPS, safety bags, and beyond. But when you start cycling, you can stick to the basics to keep you safe and moving.

Air and inflation can be incredibly expensive. Filling up your own tires at home is not only time-consuming, but it can also be unreliable and costly. If you don’t fill your tires correctly, you could end up in the middle of nowhere without air, having to walk home. Check out our locations of FREE AIR gas stations to keep the cost and stress of biking to a minimum!

How To Start Cycling

  1. Take a class.

Look into local rec and sport centers to find a bicycling class near you. When you start cycling, you want a beginner’s class to show you the ropes. This can teach you everything from the rules of the road to the proper gears to use in different settings. It’ll even teach you things you’d never thought of—like don’t bike over drain grates or you could get stuck, fall, and damage your tires. Even one or two classes will help you be safer and more comfortable with your new hobby.  You can find more biking info at Bike Forums.

  1. Start slow.

Don’t push yourself too hard when you first start cycling. This is a surefire way to strain your legs, cause injuries, and drain your energy. If you want this to be a long-term hobby or sport, you’ll need to start out slow and build to more intense rides.

  1. Join a group or club.

Cycling groups are crucial for new riders just as much as they are for veteran ones. These clubs help you meet new friends, improve your skills, discover new routes, and even get discounts at biking stores. The best part is that you’ll learn unique tips and tricks from fellow riders in your area, who can tell you the best places to ride, the best places to shop for biking gear, and even the best places to stop and grab a snack on your ride. Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends and attend bike-related social events.

You can best find cycling clubs near you through USA Cycling or on Meetup.

  1. Get insurance.

Biking insurance exists, and you need it if you plan on biking a lot. This insurance is often inexpensive, but it will help protect you from property damage and liability if you cause an accident while riding your bike.

  1. Stay safe.

Knowing how to stay safe is the most important skill to have when you first start cycling. Understand the rules of the road and always take safety precautions. Keep your head up and don’t wear headphones, so you can always be aware of your surroundings. You should also always carry water and a $20 bill on you while you ride, in case of emergencies.

The Bottom Line

Biking is one of the healthiest and greenest ways to commute, explore, and make new friends. Start cycling today for a “wheelie” good time!

And don’t forget that you can get free air for your tires at thousands of locations across the country! Check out our map to find the gas stations close to your home.

 



How to Start a Cycling Hobby
was last modified: September 23rd, 2017 by Brian Peterson

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