How to Get Into Cycling•
Posted on October 30 2023
What is road cycling?
Road cycling is a sport in which cyclists, as the name suggests, compete on roads, usually on road bikes or racing bikes. It is the most popular form of cycling and is often seen in high-level competitions such as the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, La Vuelta de España and the Volta a Portugal.
Road cycling races can vary in distance, from one-day competitions, known as classics, to long-distance multi-stage races that can last several days. Cyclists usually compete in teams and the aim is to cover the course in the shortest time possible.
That said, cycling requires physical endurance, technical skills, strategy and teamwork as cyclists have to face a variety of challenges, including steep climbs, fast descents, crosswinds and tactical work to position themselves well during the race.
In addition to the competitive aspect, road cycling is also an increasingly popular activity among cycling enthusiasts, who enjoy long bike rides in a more casual mood.
But if you're here, it's probably because you want to know how to get into cycling. That's why we're going to give you some essential tips so that you can progress quickly in this sport without ever compromising your safety.
The most important part of getting started in the world of cycling is making informed and correct decisions when it comes to essential equipment. Among these choices, the one that should receive the most attention is the choice of bicycle.
Bike selection is the crucial starting point for your cycling journey. There is a wide variety of bikes available, each designed for different cycling styles. For beginners, an entry-level road bike is the recommended choice.
Make sure that the frame size suits your body and that the bike meets your preferences in terms of comfort and performance. To do this, it's essential to consider the material of the bike. The most common materials include aluminum, steel and carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is the ideal choice for those looking for a lighter bike, however, it is important to note that it is also the most expensive option.
That said, set a budget that you're willing to spend on the bike, but remember that the bike isn't everything. You should also take into account clothing, a helmet, pedals, cycling shoes and many other accessories.
Consulting an expert at a local bike store can be extremely useful in this selection process, increasing the likelihood of choosing the perfect bike for your intentions.
Clothing plays a crucial role in creating an enjoyable first cycling experience, and when it's of the right quality, it can have an extremely positive impact on your performance and comfort.
A cycling jersey is designed to keep you cool and dry, thanks to high-tech fabrics that absorb sweat and regulate temperature. Choose one that fits comfortably and has back pockets for carrying small essentials.
Some materials regularly used in jerseys that have this capacity are, for example, spandex, polyester and nylon.
Padded cycling shorts
Have you ever been on a bike ride without padded shorts? Then don't! Road bike seats are extremely hard, so it's very uncomfortable to ride without something to protect you.
Padded shorts really are a boon for road cyclists, as they feature padding in the seat area that reduces friction.
In addition, you'll also need to make the decision between traditional cycling shorts and bib shorts. To help you in this process you can read "Why cyclists wear bib shorts".
Cycling shoes are made with high-tech materials that guarantee breathability for the feet. In addition, the upper part of the shoe is designed to fit comfortably to the foot, providing the sensation of a second layer of skin.
In turn, the sole of the shoe is rigid enough to effectively transfer the power of your pedaling to the pedals. At the same time, it's flexible enough to allow you to walk comfortably when necessary. In addition, shoes usually have integrated inserts that attach them to the pedals for greater control (so-called clipless pedals).
Choosing the right pair of shoes is also crucial, so make sure they fit your foot correctly and try to inform yourself when making your decision.
Accessories are also extremely important in the world of cycling, but there's definitely one that deserves to be highlighted! There's no need to say it, but here goes: the helmet.
Helmet: There are no excuses for not wearing a helmet! It is your main protection against head injuries in the event of a fall. Make sure your helmet is certified and fits correctly.
We also recommend that your helmet has adequate ventilation, absorbent pads capable of controlling humidity, a system that allows you to adjust the support that holds the helmet to your head more easily and a chin strap that is also easily adjustable.
Gloves: Gloves are very important for road cyclists as they not only provide comfort and protection but also grip the handlebars and absorb sweat. They are usually made from lightweight and breathable materials.
Socks: Proper socks are essential for cyclists' comfort. Designed to keep feet dry, they prevent discomfort, irritation and blisters. Many also have some degree of gentle compression to improve blood circulation.
Discover Fyke's soft compression socks that guarantee breathability of the foot.
Compression: Compression sleeves for legs and arms are valuable allies for road cyclists as they improve circulation, reduce muscle fatigue and speed up recovery.
Find out more about Fyke's compression and recovery items.
Road repair tools: Flat tires are a common mishap in road cycling. Having a repair kit with spare tubes and tire levers is essential for dealing with this situation.
Tread pump: Keep your tires properly inflated with a reliable tread pump. This not only improves the efficiency of your laps, but also helps prevent cuts and punctures.
Bike lock: The security of your bike is essential. Invest in a lock that is resistant to cuts and break-ins to prevent theft.
Bike light: In low light conditions, a bike light is essential to increase visibility so you should opt for one that is powerful and adjustable to light your way.
Water bottle and support: Hydration is a common and vital element in all sports. To stay hydrated on your bike rides, you should carry a bottle holder and bottle to make the hydration process more practical.
If you want to find out more about this topic, check out our Top 10 essential cycling equipment for all cyclists.
Tips for beginners
There are a multitude of things you will learn during your cycling journey, however, until you start to become an experienced cyclist it is important that you have some theoretical knowledge of the sport.
Road Bike Riding Techniques
Mastering basic techniques is essential to enjoying road cycling safely and efficiently. Here are some important techniques to master:
Turning: Learn to turn smoothly and in a controlled manner. Lean your body in the direction of the turn and transfer your weight to the outside pedal. This will help maintain balance and grip, allowing for more precise cornering.
Braking: Practice controlled and smooth braking, using both brakes. You should adjust the brake pressure according to the ground conditions to avoid skidding and ensure safe stops.
Climbs and descents: Develop confidence on climbs by maintaining a steady cadence and selecting lower gears suited to the slope. On descents, control your speed by keeping your body down to reduce wind resistance.
Shifting: Master the art of changing gears smoothly and on time. The right gear selection helps you maintain a consistent pace and save energy, which makes your pedaling more effective.
One of the significant challenges of road cycling is the need to share the roads with ordinary traffic in everyday situations. It is therefore essential to acquire the skills to cycle safely in these conditions. Here are some brief but valuable tips to ensure your safety:
- Always wear a quality, certified helmet.
- Respect traffic rules and signal your intentions clearly.
- Be aware of the traffic around you and keep a safe distance from motorized vehicles.
- Wear bright clothing and lights to increase visibility, especially in low light conditions.
- Have your bike serviced regularly to avoid unexpected problems.
Identify Your Style and Specialty
You've probably heard of the different roles cyclists play in a team. This topic will cover not only their most common specialties but also the strategies often applied by teams in pursuit of stage wins.
Professional cycling teams are made up of cyclists with different specialties, the three most recognized of which are listed below:
Climbers (Mountain Specialists): Climbers are the masters of the climbs. They have the ability to maintain a constant pace on steep inclines, which means they can often leave their opponents behind in the mountains.
Sprinters: Sprinters are known for their bursts of speed. They are considered the kings of group finishes due to their ability to accelerate in the final meters of a stage.
Time Trialists (Time Trial Specialists): Time trialists are masters of racing against the clock. They usually possess excellent endurance and concentration skills when competing in stages where time is the determining factor. These stages are usually individual and smaller, so teamwork is a little left out compared to the other stages.
And speaking of teamwork, if you think cycling is a sport where it doesn't matter much, don't! To achieve success, professional teams need to have a well-developed strategy that takes advantage of the specialties of each of their cyclists. Collaboration between team members is therefore essential during competitions. Here are some common strategies:
Domestiques: Cyclists who sacrifice their own chances of victory to support team leaders. They play key roles, such as pulling the peloton, providing protection from the wind and even sharing their water and food with the leaders.
Team Leaders: Cyclists with the best chance of winning certain stages. The team works together to protect and support these leaders, helping them to conserve energy and face specific challenges.
Coaches and Sports Directors: The team has experienced coaches and sports directors who manage the cyclists' progress and make tactical decisions during races, i.e. they play a crucial role in defining race strategies and making decisions in real time.
As you can see, there's a whole world of cycling to discover, but it's only with time and many kilometers that you'll get to know your style, specialty and personal preferences.
The Biggest Mistakes New Cyclists Make
When taking your first steps into the world of road cycling, it's natural to make mistakes. Knowing about them and avoiding them can speed up your progress and make your experience more enjoyable. Here are some of the most common mistakes:
Not wearing your helmet: The helmet is your main protection against head injuries in the event of a fall. We reiterate: Always wear it!
Not preparing properly for the weather: Be prepared for different weather conditions. Bring extra clothing, such as a windbreaker or a waterproof jacket, to ensure you feel comfortable in all conditions.
Ignoring bike maintenance: Keep your bike in good condition. Regularly check the tire pressure, lubricate the chain and carry out regular maintenance to avoid unexpected problems during your rides.
Incorrect saddle height: Incorrect saddle height can cause discomfort and injury. Make sure the saddle height is appropriate for your height and the length of your legs.
Wearing the wrong clothes: Wearing the right clothes is fundamental to your comfort while cycling. Choose technical clothing that can absorb moisture and regulate body temperature.
Poor effort management: Avoid overexertion at the start, as this can lead to early fatigue. Learn to manage your energy throughout the ride to maintain a steady and enjoyable pace.
How to Become a Better Cyclist
To become a better cyclist, we recommend constant practice in order to perfect your laps. In addition, it's important to take into account the points that have been covered throughout this blog article that will help you make better decisions at an early stage in your journey as a cyclist.
That said, in addition to regular practice, it's essential that you gradually increase the distance and intensity of your rides in order to avoid injuries, overexertion and early fatigue.
Other suggestions we have are to continually join groups of more experienced cyclists who are willing to provide tips relevant to the sport and also to set personal goals/record your progress, so that you always feel motivated and are able to measure your development over time.
Ready to start cycling?
We believe that by now you have a better understanding of how to start cycling. Don't forget to follow all the recommendations as they are essential for an enjoyable and, above all, safe cycling experience.
Also, make sure you buy and use the relevant cycling equipment and make use of the techniques for beginners outlined in this blog article. And never forget that most important of all is to be a defensive cyclist who always prioritizes the safety of yourself and others.
Remember that Fyke can help you not only by sharing information and knowledge, but also with top-quality cycling clothing. So, if you're a man, improve your performance with our Boost Cycling SS Shirt Man and our Boost Bibs Short Man. If you're a woman, discover supreme comfort with our Boost Cycling SS Shirt Woman and our Boost Bibs Short Woman.