Inspired by Tour de France or just want to rekindle that beloved childhood hobby? Newbie cyclist Abi Jackson has a few top tips for beginners.
She said: “Earlier this year, in need of distraction and a new hobby, I started cycling.
“I’d already caught the spinning bug and was the proud owner of a beloved vintage bike, but the most action that ever saw was the odd amble around the park and while spin classes work up a good sweat, they’re not the same as the real thing.
“So double-figure gears, saddle sores and all that cycling jazz were an alien world to me, but one I’m loving getting acquainted with.”
Here are Abi’s top tips:
1. Build confidence somewhere safe
If the thought of cycling on the road makes you anxious, find traffic-free or low traffic routes where you can get used to handling the bike and build your confidence without the worry of vehicles whizzing past.
Buddying up with other cyclists – who are clued up on safety and familiar with suitable routes – really helps too. Google cycling groups in your area and chances are you’ll soon find like-minded people to join.
2. Quiz people who know their stuff
It can feel slightly intimidating when you’re new to something. But remember – even the pros were beginners once, so don’t be embarrassed about not knowing or being good at everything right away. I’ve asked hundreds of questions over the past few months, tapping up my brother-in-law, cycling colleagues and physios for tips and advice.
3. Set your own pace
Similarly, work to your own pace and limits as a beginner. I did a training ride with some of the members of Matrix Pro Cycling team, but what was an extremely gentle leisurely ride for them, was pretty darn challenging for me! But that’s OK – they’re pros, I’m not, and I’m not mega-fit either. I’d like to improve over time, but I also want to avoid injury and enjoy it along the way.
4. Build strength off the bike too
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with just cycling for the joy of it. But if you’d like to get better at it, or you’re training for a challenge, like all sports, it pays to incorporate other forms of exercise that’ll help you improve.
5. Ditch the underwear
On longer rides, if you’re wearing padded shorts, you’re not meant to wear pants underneath so those soft, chafe-preventing padded areas can properly do their job. This is something I’d stumbled across on the web, but wasn’t sure whether it was actually true or the best way to do things, and of course, my non-cycling friends didn’t have a clue.
6. Make sure your bike ‘fits’ you
I had my saddle adjusted recently – moving it forwards so it’s closer to the handlebars – and it’s made a MASSIVE difference. The longer gap meant I was having to lean and reach too much previously, resulting in strained shoulders and a lot of discomfort on the saddle. It goes to show: the importance of having your bike set up so that it’s just right for you shouldn’t be under-estimated.
7. Don’t get too bogged down by technical stuff
Fixing punctures, all those gears, all that talk of cadence and heart rate monitoring – I must admit, the technical side of cycling has been frying my brain! Some people are naturally drawn to that side of things. I’m not one of them. But again – that’s fine, I’m a beginner. So for now, I’m just focusing on enjoying the ride and learning along the way.
For more information about how Abi got into cycling log onto skoda.co.uk/cycling