Getting into the sport of cycling is a learning process and it can take some time to get used to things. We were all beginners at some point and can all admit to committing at least some of these rookie mistakes. Here’s a list of the top 5 mistakes beginners make and how to avoid them.
1. INCORRECT SADDLE HEIGHT
Probably one of the most common rookie mistakes made by beginners. We’ve seen a bunch of cyclists commit this blunder too. The funny thing is that this is probably one of the easiest ones to correct. All you need is an Allen key – some bikes (usually MTBs) don’t even need that. Just loosen the seatpost clamp and set it according to your height.
If your saddle’s too low you’ll be uncomfortable and less efficient. If it’s too high, you risk tendon and joint injury, and rocking from side to side while pedaling will cause chafing. There are a number of ways to determine saddle height, but the most useful rule of thumb is that your knee should be 25-35° from straight when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke.
When you sit on the saddle, keep the right crank arm at the 6 O clock position and rest your heel on the pedal. There should be a very slight bend at your knees. Readjust your saddle height to obtain this.
If in case you still are sitting awkwardly or are uncomfortable there is a possibility that you may be riding a wrongly sized bike.
2. INCORRECT RIDING APPAREL
No helmets, incorrectly worn helmets, cargos, sandals, slippers and worst yet, jeans. We’ve seen it all. If you’ve worn any of those items of clothing mentioned above then you’ve been doing it wrong too.
We here at BUMSONTHESADDLE have a very strict “No helmet, no ride” policy on our weekend rides. We follow this very strictly because a helmet is the most important bit of kit that you need to have on at all times. You never know when it’ll come in handy. Safety first!
We recommend wearing cycling apparel at all times – its safer, more comfortable, faster and looks cooler. We’re not saying you need to step out in spandex and lycra everywhere you go, but try and wear your kit when out on longish rides.
3. INCORRECT USE OF GEARS
This is something many of us were guilty of when we tried our first geared bicycles. Gears on your bikes are there to help you out in varying terrains and gradients.
When climbing don’t be afraid to drop a gear or two. It’s going to ease stress off your joints and let you pedal at a higher cadence. This doesn’t mean it becomes “easier”. Technically it does, but that’s where the amount of effort you put in matters. When on a flat stretch, shift up and maintain a steady and maintainable cadence. Aim for an average of 90-95rpm as a cadence for your rides.
Incorrect use of gears can lead to extreme fatigue and potentially even joint pain over extended periods. Even when you come to a stop at a signal, downshift and then take off when green. This is something not many people do and then struggle to take off. It will also extend the life of your drivetrain.
4. NOT SERVICING IN TIME
Just like your cars and motorbikes, even cycles need their periodic maintenance. Bikes undergo a lot of wear and tear every time they’re used. It’s important to take your bike to your local bike shop every 5-12 months depending on how much and how often you ride. For people commuting it may be even more frequent. Commuting and frequent long rides take a toll on the bikes drivetrain, brakes, tires and bearings. It’s crucial that they get the attention they require every now and then.
If you feel that something’s off with the bike then get it addressed at the earliest. Don’t wait too long, it may just get a lot worse and end up costing a lot more.
Consider picking up a degreaser and a bicycle specific chain lube for your bike – this will keep your drivetrain clean and well lubricated at all times.
5. NOT CARRYING ESSENTIALS ON RIDES
This is an easy fix. Get yourself a saddlebag and keep it on your bike at all times. A saddlebag can contain all of the essentials you need when you’re out riding. Here’s a few things to stuff in there and keep at all times on your bike:
- Spare tube
- Tire lever
- Compact first-aid kit
- Patch kit
Besides this always remember to carry at least 1-2 bottles of water and sufficient nutrition if you’re on a long ride. Being underhydrated or not having enough of energy can only spell disaster when cycling.
For more information on rider hydration & nutrition head over to our blog post – TOP 5 NUTRITION AND HYDRATION TIPS FOR BEGINNER CYCLISTS.
For more information on the top 5 essentials to carry on a road ride head over to our blog post – TOP FIVE THINGS TO CARRY WHILE ROAD BIKING
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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