I got a request from "dh" to do a post on how to get started in cycling. I am certainly not a pro, but I am happy to share my experiences on how I got into the sport. Anyone is welcome to leave more thoughts/advice in a comment!
Road cycling is awesome! It is fun and challenging and not hard on your joints, which I love. Your booty will be sore at first though. ;-) It is an expensive sport to get into, but once your initial purchases are done it's pretty low maintenance. Get ready for a lot of info!
1. Get a bike!
Of course you can get a bike off your local classifieds, but I wanted to go to a bike shop that catered to women and novices (you'd be surprised how some bike shops really cater to men and the really experienced), and took the time to really help me find the right bike in my price range. Do your homework online and then call around to some local bike shops. My bike came with a free bike fit (helped a ton on seat position, handlebar position, etc.) and tune-ups for life. If I have a problem with my bike I can take it in and they will fix it for free (I would have to pay for any parts). This was very important to me.
Must haves are a helmet, bike shorts and shoes. You can get a helmet just about anywhere. Get one that fits and looks cool. :)
You will have to try on different bike shorts to see what works for you but I include these in must haves because you butt will really thank you. :) I like a longer style, so my favorites for short rides are Desoto tri capris (less padding) and for longer rides I LOVE my Pearl Izumi knickers.
Shoes: I use the Shimano clip in shoes with the hard plastic bottoms. These type of shoes give so much more support and power to your pedal. However, know that if you get these shoes there is a learning curve and you will have a few falls when you stop and forget that your foot is clipped in to the pedal! These shoes are really hard to walk in, but they do make a road shoe with a rubber bottom that is much easier to walk in. I am hoping to switch over to these this year.
If you are worried/afraid about getting your feet stuck in your pedals, at least get toe cages put on your pedals (you can use regular running/tennis shoes with these).
3. Accessories part 2
Of course you will want to have at least 2 water bottles with water cages on your bike, I like the insulated type. For longer rides more than 30-40 miles in the summer heat I also take along my camelbak. One ride two years ago I was over-confident and didn't think I'd need my camelbak. It was so hot at 100 degrees and I went through my 2 bottles of ice water too quickly. There was no shade for miles. I finally found a road sign (one of those big orange ones with wheels that have the arrows telling your to move over lanes) that had a little shade. I stopped and sat on it and rubbed the ice that was left in my bottle all over my head and face. I wonder what all the cars driving by thought?! Anyway I was heading towards heat stroke and I was very lucky. Lesson learned! You can never have too much water. For longer rides you will also want to have some form of energy/nutrition so in one water bottle you will want something with electrolytes/calories and you also might want some calories in the form of gels, bars or bananas. It's all trial and error what feels good to your body.
At some point you will have a flat tire, so you will need an extra tire, tire repair kit, small pump and/or co2 cartridges. And you will need something to keep your repair kit, co2 cartridges in, as well as extra gel packs, your cell phone, etc. so you will want a seat pack. You will also need to know HOW to change your tire, more on that later.
I highly recommend wearing something like the Road ID in case anything happens. Bike gloves make a big difference for comfort. The wind can be killer on the bike, so a headband like this tops my list so save my ears on colder windy days. Another essential is sunglasses. I had a pair of glasses I liked but when I put them on with my helmet they touched my eyelashes and were uncomfortable. I'd suggest trying on glasses with your helmet if possible.
I have never bought specific bike socks but they have those too. I prefer triathlon tops to bike tops but both have pockets in the back to use for keys, snacks, phone, etc. A windproof jacket is a good idea and bright colors are great so cars can see you. And if you will be riding at dawn/dusk, it's important to have lights or reflective gear. If you are riding in colder weather, there's a whole other clothing line that you will need to check out. (I'm too wimpy to ride in the cold!)
Local bike shops or places like REI give free or low cost classes on how to change flat tires and how to train for bike races. I went to several classes at my local REI which really helped. Look around and find out what's around your area. You just might meet some riding buddies too!
One of the most valuable things I did was hire a triathlon coach who had a computrainer. Have 20+ gears at your fingertips can be daunting if you've never really used a bike with that many gears. Knowing how and when to shift gears can make all the difference in your cycling experience. Using the computrainer twice was invaluable in teaching me about how/when to shift gears on my bike. Highly recommend!
6. For training while it's still freezing cold with snow on the ground or when you don't have time to get out, a Bike trainer is great for home use. And if you need a workout, get my Spinervals DVD and you can watch me sweat!
7. Fun extra stuff like a heart rate monitor, mileage calculator or something that does both like the Garmin. are fun and motivating. And check out articles online and support groups/chat places like Beginner triathlete for more info. And start talking to friends and people you know, they just might be a "roadie" and have tons of information to give you.
There you go dh! I think I covered it all, at least the majority of it. It might seem a little overwhelming, but really it's not. Get the most important things and then add on as you are able. I hope you get out there and become a roadie. :-) Keep me posted!
My Life, Health and Fitness Goals for 2011!
- Appreciate my healthy body by being active and fueling it with good food, understand my limitations but push through them when I know I'm not giving it my all! ( Give myself a B-/C+ for this)
- Maintain a healthy-feel good weight, gain strength and fitness!--eh, it was a hard year. did ok
- Go back to school--started the process, accepted into school, still working on transfer of credits, etc. Plan on summer/fall next year (waiting for free tuition!)
- Give up Diet Coke for good! DONE!!
- Give up bottled water (unless traveling or on vacation) DONE!!
- 4 mile Dirty Girl Run--July 2--DONE!
- Take horseback riding lessons--started 7/29!
- Finish century bike ride--did not happen this year. I did not get enough training time in. Next year!
- 10K Dirty Dash Sept 24--done!
- Hike Mt. Timpanogos (15 mile RT, 4580 elevation gain)--planned--not done, weather got too cold and schedules got changed. :( Next year!
- Dance lessons with hubby--registered for class in Jan 2012
Health and Fitness Goals accomplished in 2010!
- Maintain weight 129 lbs or less through healthy eating and exercise, continue to get lean and strong!--Finishing the year in the low 130's, which wasn't what I wanted but I'm ok with it. Did get stronger! ;)
- Submit my story to Prevention's "Picture of Health" contest--done! 1/19/10
- Finish Lifetime Fitness mini-indoor triathlon March 6th--done!
- Finish 5K or longer race--done! 7K, 4/26/10
- Goldilocks women's 60 mile bike ride May 8--Done! 47 miles
- Finish at least one Sprint Triathlon-- Iron Girl Triathlon Las Vegas 5/15/10--DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Finish a century (100 mile) ride--Utah Lake Century 8/7/10--NOT done, next year
- Finish Insanity 63 day challenge Aug 30 - Oct 31--not finished, too hard on my knees and missed weight training
- Try Bikram (hot) yoga--done!! 11/20/10
- Be featured in Shape Magazine--December 2010 issue--DONE!!
Health and Fitness Goals accomplished in 2009!
- Maintain my weight at 122-127 lbs through proper eating and exercise and continue to get lean and strong!--done
- Pass ACE Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant Exam-- 09/01/09--passed!
- Take intro martial arts class--done! 8/14/09
- Teach Weight workshop classes-- done! 9/8/09
- Send my story to Shape magazine--done! 9/27/09
- Do at least one chin up! --done! 1/25/09
- Share my story at work - Healthy Balance--done, in 02/09 issue
Health and Fitness Goals accomplished in 2008!
- Join the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR)--done! 10/14/08
- Take and Pass ACE Personal Trainer Exam by the end of December 2008--PASSED!!!!! 12/3/08!
- Try indoor rock climbing--done! 12/08
- Take fencing class--done! 9/08
- Achieve and maintain my weight at 123-126 lbs or less with proper eating and exercise--done!