So you’ve finally decided to commit to cycling? That’s great, it’s always encouraging to see more and more people get into riding. We’re at a stage where cycling really seems to be picking up in a big way in many places, not just the big cities but also in smaller towns where it has begun to pique interest amongst the younger lot.
WHY SHOULD I CYCLE?
- Fun and healthy way to move from point A to point B.
- It’s a low impact sport. There are no jarring-impacts like with running.
- Light on the pocket – no gas to put in, no parking spaces to pay for.
- Easy to get into. Sit on a bike. Pedal. Done.
- It’s super fun!
Cycling has a bunch of different categories for everybody! Road, Mountain or simply fitness riding. There are further sub-categorizations within these disciplines – basically, there’s a lot to choose from. Something for everybody.
WHERE TO START?
1. FIND THE RIGHT BIKE
Getting started is easier than you think. Commitment and passion are all that you require. You start this journey by first picking a bike. Now, this is a very important step. A clear understanding of exactly what you want to do is essential.
What kind of rider are you? You may need to think about this for a while, even try out a rental or a friend’s bike to understand what you like.
Do you see yourself riding mostly on the road or riding the daily commute? Or do you see yourself riding your full suspension MTB down some gnarly trails over weekends? It’s all up to you.
Now, bikes do cost money. Expect to spend a few thousand bucks minimum at your bike shop. You don’t have to spend lakhs, but you’ll have more fun on a decent bike than a heavy, crappy one from a department store. We think it’s wise to get a bike shop’s help in buying a bike that fits you, but other than that, go nuts.
Knowing your riding style and conditions will ensure that you end up buying the bike that is right for you. Light framed road bikes with skinny tires and multiple gears are what you would look for if you’re riding regularly with a group and also if you’re into competitive races. For the average commuter, a gearless hybrid or a fixed gear bike may be the way to go but in the end, it’s all up to you. Also, think about how long you intend to stick to the sport and what its growth along with yours is going to be.
2. GRAB THE ESSENTIALS
The other important aspect of any form of biking is gear. Helmets are an essential piece of safety equipment that you must never ride without. Having a floor pump with a gauge is also helpful. Keeping a multitool handy with you is also advisable as you never know when you’ll end up needing it. You could also look at investing in cycling apparel such as gloves, bibs, jerseys, cycling shorts and cycling shoes.
All of these items aren’t going to make you a better rider by any means. These are just meant to enhance rider comfort and appeal.
Bike fitment is an area most cyclists tend to shy away from, usually because they don’t know much about it. Owning a bike that is too big or too small for you is not only going to lead to a lack of efficiency but could also contribute to potentially major injuries and joint pains.
Visit your local bike shop and ask for proper fitment where you are measured thoroughly. This tedious step prevents further complications in the future. It also means that the cycle is tailored to fit your size and comfort requirements.
Everyone starts small, you may be motivated enough to ride as soon as you get a new bike because it’s new and fun. However, making a habit of riding often or whenever possible is important as it helps you form consistency.
Cycling regularly especially with a group gives you the much needed motivation that will keep you cycling regularly as over time bonds are formed amongst likeminded people pursuing cycling as a sport.
Once you’ve figured out your setup, commit to riding regularly whether it is alone or with a group, just maintain consistency.
Cycling is known to greatly benefit your mental and physical health if done regularly. The first few rides are going to be tough but with time you will stop perceiving cycling as a form of exercise and start to view it as a means of enjoyment and satisfaction – happens to the best of us.
There is what’s called an ABC check that you must conduct on your cycle on a regular basis or before a ride that. A stands for Air, B stands for Brakes and C stands for Crank and Chain.
Make sure your cycle tires have the recommended amount of air in them.
Ensuring properly working brakes are very important, inspect the pads for wear and replace them if they are worn out. Also, check pad clearance make sure they do not rub against the rim/disc.
The main components of the drivetrain include the chain and the crank. Lubing and cleaning these parts ensure smooth functioning and overall longevity. Ensure that your chain is free of gunk and that your crank arms are properly tightened.
Knowing how to maintain your cycle is just as important as knowing how to ride. You may not have the technical know-how to do so. You just need to take care of the basics. Keeping your bike and all its moving parts clean and clear of debris and obstruction is key to a smooth riding cycle.
Keeping the bearings greased up and lubing the drivetrain are some of the essentials. Taking care of these basic components on your cycle will save you time and money in the long run. The more frequently you ride your bike the more care and frequent servicing it’ll require to counter all the wear and tear that it is being subjected to.
It cannot be stressed as to how important investing in quality components is. They look a lot nicer and more importantly last a lot longer and don’t harm the cycle in any way. If you ever feel that something on your cycle is acting funny or doesn’t seem right then don’t hesitate to walk into the bike shop to get it looked into. Riding on with a bike that isn’t well-maintained compromises your safety as well.
5. OBSERVE PROTOCOL
Always stay hydrated and nourished when out on a ride. Keep your body cool by wearing appropriate clothing and don’t overexert yourself on a ride.
Being safe on your cycle isn’t just about investing in helmets and padding. You need to be riding safely as well. What that means is that you need to ride in a manner that is efficient, safe and gets you from point A to point B. This would include obeying traffic regulations, using hand signals to indicate to others where you intend to move on the road. Always stay cautious and ride at controllable speeds.
Another trend that has picked up is riding with ears plugged in. Doing so is highly unsafe as you may not clearly hear what is around you and its proximity to you which may result in an accident. Always keep your ears and eyes free from any obstruction. If you really need that extra motivation on the road, play your music through a compact Bluetooth speaker.
Ultimately, cycling is a sport for those who are really passionate about it and enjoy an adrenaline rush every now and then. These days’ bikes are available in all price brackets and are accessible to most people. You don’t need fancy gear or a top-end bike that costs a fortune to have fun.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010