You know what they say about riding a bicycle: you never truly forget how to do it. But what about those of us who never really learned how to properly ride our bicycles in the first place? Or those of us who want to pick up cycling for the first time? It turns out, there’s a lot to know when it comes to cycling, especially for the beginner bike rider.
We’ve recently been inspired to pull our bikes out of the garage, tune them up, and hit the road. Of course, we never leave home without a Nalgene bottle full to the brim with cool drinking water, and the great news is that plenty of bottles are the perfect fit for bicycles. We’ll get to that later, but first, we wanted to put together the ultimate cycling guide for new bike riders, filled with all of the cycling tips you could ever need. From equipment to cycling routes, we cover it all.
So whether you’re brand new to bicycling, or you already have a few bike adventures under your belt but you’re looking for tips, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to get started cycling, the right way.
Choosing The Right Gear
Bicycle: Of course, this is going to be one of your biggest decisions when it comes to cycling. There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right bicycle.
Bicycles come in different weights and sizes, and you want to pick the right style for you. For example, there are road bikes, mountain bikes, and fixed gear bikes, just to name a few. Another thing to consider when it comes to choosing a bike is budget, because prices can range greatly.
A great way to make sure your bike ticks all of the boxes is to head to your local bike shop to speak to an expert. Their job is to guide customers towards the perfect bicycle, and bikes are their specialties. If you want, you can do some research and have some ideas in mind ahead of time, so you know what questions you want to ask.
Helmet: You should never leave home without a helmet, and in fact, wearing a helmet is the law in many places. Choose a helmet that fits comfortably (and isn’t loose), and get into the habit of wearing it whenever you’re on your bicycle.
Shoes: Shoes are a personal choice, and it depends on what you’re comfortable with and what type of bike you have. You can wear regular athletic sneakers or shoes, but there are also specialized cycling shoes you can wear. If you use clip-in pedals, you’ll need clip-in bike shoes.
When it comes to picking a shoe, you want to make sure your feet are protected. For this reason, biking in shoes like flip flops generally isn’t considered safe.
Clothes: There is a lot of variety when it comes to clothes that are good for bicycling. Any sort of athletic clothing is likely a good idea. You should look for fabric that is flexible, snug, and that has good ventilation. You also want to make sure that your clothes won’t restrict your movement, or get caught in the bike itself. Bike shorts are a great option, along with an athletic top. If it’s cool out, you might want to dress in layers.
Water bottle: Many bicycles come with a bottle cage, or you can add one on. A bottle cage is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a “cage” that mounts onto your bicycle where you can fit your water bottle perfectly. Bringing a water bottle along while you bicycle is crucial, because cycling can be an intensive activity, and you’ll definitely need hydration along the way. And guess what? Plenty of Nalgene bottles fit perfectly into most bike bottle cages, such as our 24oz On-The-Fly and 22oz Fitness Draft bottles.
Tools: Depending on where you plan on cycling, you might want to carry some basic tools with you, or at least store them with your bike. Certain tools can be used at home to regularly tune up your bike with ease, and when you’re on the road, tools can come in handy if you run into any trouble. A bike pump can help easily refill tires (you can get one that is super small and portable), a lock will be handy if you plan on keeping your bicycle outside, and lights are necessary at night. You can even learn how to fix a puncture all on your own, just in case you get stuck in a sticky situation.
Pick Your Route
From biking around the block to hitting woodsy trails, there are endless places you can take your bicycle. Not sure where to start, or where to go? Here are some ways you can decide where to take your bicycle, and how to find new routes in your area.
Consider types of terrain: There are plenty of different types of terrain to choose from. Deciding which type you want to cycle on can help you narrow down your choices of where to go. For example, you can choose paved trails, roads, and bike lanes. Or you can select mountain bike trails if you’re looking for some adventure.
Apps: Not sure how to pick a bike trail, or looking for new trails in your area? Well, there’s an app for that (actually, there are tons of apps for that). There are also plenty of other tools to help you discover trails in your area. Here are some great ones to get you started:
The Warm Up And Cool Down
Before you hit the road, it’s a great idea to warm up with some stretches for cyclists. Plus, after you finish your ride, you can use these stretches to cool down. Here are some areas you can focus on, and some stretches you can use to stay limber and flexible:
Calf stretches: You’ll be working your calves plenty when you’re bicycling, and there are tons of calf stretches you can do to help you feel your best.
Quadriceps: You’ll also use your quads plenty while bike riding, so warm them up before you head out the door. Also make sure you focus on them during your cool down once you get home.
You can also focus on your hip flexors, glutes, and lower back.
It’s Time To Hit The Road
It’s time to finally hit the road, so fill up your favorite Nalgene bottle with water, suit up in your biking clothes, and hop on your bicycle. Here are some tips for when you actually start cycling:
Make a habit of it: Especially if you’re new, it can take a little while to get used to cycling. Make a regular habit of getting on your bicycle, whether it’s weekly or daily.
Keep track of your efforts: You can track your routes, trails, distance, and time spent bicycling, either manually or using apps that track you while you cycle. This will help you monitor your progress, keep track of the trails you’re using, and other metrics.
Join a bicycling group: Don’t want to cycle alone? There are bicycling groups that you can join, for inspiration and friends on the trail. To find cycling groups, check in with your local bike shop, or search around on social media for groups. You can also cycle with your family and friends.
Best Biking Cities In The U.S.
Not all biking cities are created equal, and some cities really prioritize their cyclists. Here is a list of the top ten cities for cyclists in the U.S, based on factors such as weather, access to bike routes and shops, and community support.
- San Francisco, CA
- Portland, OR
- Fort Collins, CO
- Eugene, OR
- Minneapolis, MN
- Washington, DC
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Boise, ID
- Boston, MA
Cycling Is For Everybody
One of the great things about cycling is that it can truly be for everybody. Whether you want to casually cycle around your neighborhood, teach your kids to bike, or you want to become a daily cycler, you can definitely make this sport your own. And of course, don’t forget to grab your favorite Nalgene bottle before you head out the door, so you stay hydrated and healthy along the way.