How to Start a Bicycling Routine

I’ve written about starting a running routine  and a swimming routine  and I’ll stay with that theme here and discuss how to get started with a bicycling routine.

Of the various exercise routines in which to get started, bicycling is likely the one that can be the most expensive to start because of the cost of the bike and equipment. It can also be the routine most likely to become overcomplicated as it seems each “expert” has an opinion on how you start and maintain a routine.  Instead of adding to the confusion, I’ll attempt to simplify your decision.

Are you ready to start? Here are some steps to get you into the saddle and enjoying your new routine.

Go See Your Doctor: If you are not currently exercising and this is a brand-new routine for you, first visit your doctor. This is always a good first step. Tell your doctor your desire to start an exercise routine, and he/she will quickly run you though a check up or physical exam and ensure that you are healthy enough to start.

How Do You Want To Ride? On Road or Off Road: Do you want to ride on the road, or do you want to ride off road? It is a big decision as each bike has a different form and function. Thing of it this way; would you drive a Lamborghini super car with low profile tires on a dirt mountain road? Of course not, and bikes are no different.  Road riding is super convenient for most people and the world you drive through daily looks different when you are on a bike. If you are on the road, be sure to obey all the same laws as if you are in a car and be aware of cars on the road. Drivers are looking for other cars and may not see you, so be defensive when you are on the road. Off road or Mountain biking is a fun way to quickly launch off into nature and to see things you may only see if you were hiking. Always stay on well-maintained trails, stay off private property, and ride in pairs, especially in the beginning of your routine. If you are in a accident and by yourself, that can create a dangerous situation for yourself.

On the road in Berlin

Visit a Retailer Specializing in Bikes and Equipment: A retailer specializing in bikes will recommend the bike for your type of riding (road or off road) as well as ensure the bike is properly fitted for you. Yes, you need to have a bike fitted for your frame. A poorly fit bike makes for an unenjoyable event and you are likely to quit bicycling if you do not have a bike that is fitted for you. Along with a bike, you will need some additional equipment to ensure you are safe: a helmet (you gotta protect that melon) a comfortable saddle (bike seat), a travel air pump and spare tubes (flats happen!) and those funny looking padded shorts really do help.  Sunglasses, specialized shoes (depends on the type of pedals you use), gloves, and a water bottle should also be considered.  

Find a Place To Ride: a little online research will tell you of some good places to ride in your community. There are online bicycling communities around the world that recommend specific routes based upon your fitness level and the safety of the surrounding environment. Take 10-15 minutes and find a route that suits your needs.  

Family Fun on the Log Gatos Trail

Ease Into The Experience: If you have never rode bikes or if it has been a long time, you will be using muscles in a way that you never have before. The good news is that riding a bike is a typically not a high impact exercise (though, some mountain trails will jar you pretty hard) so your muscles will feel tired, but your joints will feel good. Nonetheless, your muscles will feel sore in ways you didn’t expect. So, on your first day out, don’t ride 25 miles and expect to feel okay. Take it easy in the beginning. Get comfortable with your bike, learn of it feels when you turn, when you break, and when you change gears. Be comfortable enough that the bike feels like an extension of you. A comfortable rider is a safe rider.

Join a group: Once you have become comfortable with your bike, know what your goals and limits, consider joining a riding club. Folks who join clubs are more likely to continue riding as the social aspect of a club make riding more fun.

Have fun: Don’t over complicate or over think a routine. At the end of the day, riding the bike as an adult is not much different than riding as a kid. And when you were a kid, riding your bike was a lot of fun. Go an experience that fun again today!

Have Fun!

If you are looking for some other resources on the topic, I’ve pulled these article for you.

A 6 week training plan:

A beginners “blue print” to road cycling:

Additional tips for getting started:

Cycling for newbies:

A three month training calendar:

Leave a comment and let me know if you have started a bicycling routine. If you have other ideas or tips people can learn from your experience, please share them here.