How not to look stupid
- Wear your helmet correctly: Place that helmet snuggly on your head and low enough to protect from frontal impact, tighten the straps, and enjoy the ride. This isn’t your opportunity to try to be a fashion innovator here. Accept that.
- Avoid the “rookie tattoo”: A sure sign of spotting a newbie cyclist is the dreaded grease chain mark on your leg. If you don’t want to risk ruining your clothes or calling yourself out as a beginner, be cautious when maneuvering around your bike. Don’t get too close to the chain. Simple.
- Wear fitted gear: Your clothes should fit your frame and not become a brightly hued parachute in the wind. Comfort is most important in cycling, so wear clothes that are intended for the sport. Don’t be intimidated by a race kit (“kit” is a cycling term for uniform). You don’t have to be all matchy-matchy but investing in quality cycling clothing can enhance your overall performance, comfort, and style.
How to make sure you get a good work out
- Take advantage of terrain: Pick a cycling route that challenges not only your endurance but also your legs. Going up hills is a good way to add intensity to your ride, but don’t forget to push yourself in the flat roads as well. Try to find that sweet spot where you feel aerobically uncomfortable.
- Spin, spin, spin: One of the best parts about cycling is that there’s so much to see. But that can get distracting, and you might forget to spin your legs. Always try to keep your legs moving. The higher your cadence (pedal revolutions), the higher your heart rate—and the more calories you burn.
- Have a goal every time you ride: Setting a goal ensures that you won?t “waste” any outings. That doesn’t mean that the ride can’t be just for fun, but if you approach each ride with a plan to improve on something specific, whether it’s endurance or skills, you will keep getting better.
Cycling lingo you should know
- Kit: A cycling-specific outfit that includes the cycling jersey and shorts.
- Chamois: Padded bike shorts.
- Bibs: The shorts with suspender-looking straps. They have a streamline fit, but aren?t very bathroom-friendly. Bibs are always worn under the jersey.
- Jersey: The shirt with a zipper on the front and pockets on the back that you wear when riding. This can be long sleeve or short sleeved or paired with a set of arm warmers for varying temperatures.
- Big ring and little ring: These are the front chain rings on your bike, and the bigger looking dinner plate is a harder gear and the smaller one is easier.
- Cogs: The stack of gears on your rear wheel. The smaller the circle, the harder the gear is.
- Brakes: The lever on your right-hand side is your rear brake, and your left hand holds the lever for your front brake. Rather than grabbing a handful of brakes, learn to “feather” them to slow down smoothly.
- Shifters: For a typical road bike set-up, think right, rear. Your right hand will shift the cogs on your rear wheel, and your left hand will allow shifting to your big and little ring.
- Bonk: That feeling where you hit the wall and can no longer pedal. Proper fuel and increased fitness can help you avoid this.