Getting started with road cycling can seem a bit overwhelming at first. From buying your first road bike to understanding the rules of the road, there’s quite a bit to learn.
This beginner’s guide to road cycling will help you get started on your two-wheeled journey.
Choosing Your First Road Bike
The first thing you’ll need for road cycling is, of course, a bike. Here’s what you need to consider when choosing your first road bike:
Decide how much you’re willing to spend. A good entry-level road bike can range from $500 to $1000.
While higher-end bikes can offer better components and lighter weight, an entry-level bike is perfectly suitable for beginners.
Getting a bike that fits you properly is crucial. Bike size is determined by the size of the frame.
Bike shops can help you find the right size, but if you’re buying online, use a bike sizing chart to match your height to the appropriate bike frame size.
Components like the groupset (the gears and brakes) can vary greatly in quality. Brands like Shimano and SRAM offer reliable, high-quality components.
As a beginner, starting with an entry-level groupset is a good idea. You can always upgrade components later.
Essential Gear for Road Cycling
Once you have a bike, there are a few essential pieces of gear you should have (for a full cycling gear essentials guide click here):
A helmet is non-negotiable.
Make sure it fits well and is certified to meet safety standards.
Invest in a few pieces of cycling-specific clothing.
Padded cycling shorts will make your ride more comfortable, and moisture-wicking cycling jerseys will keep you dry and cool.
Consider getting a bike pump, spare tubes, tire levers, and a multi-tool for on-the-go repairs. A water bottle and a bottle cage are also essential for staying hydrated during rides.
Cycling Skills to Master
As a beginner, there are a few fundamental skills you need to master:
Knowing when and how to shift gears is key for efficient cycling. Practice shifting on flat terrain and hills to get a feel for it.
Learn to brake smoothly and effectively. The front brake provides the most stopping power, but using it too hard can send you over the handlebars.
Practice braking with both brakes at the same time.
Riding in Traffic
If you’ll be riding on roads with cars, it’s important to know how to ride safely.
Always ride in the same direction as traffic, obey traffic laws, signal your turns, and be predictable.
Understanding Cycling Etiquette
There are unwritten rules in cycling that you should know:
If you join a group ride, stay with the group, and follow the leader. Don’t ride too close to the cyclist in front of you, and signal if you’re slowing down or stopping.
If you’re riding on shared trails, yield to pedestrians and slower traffic. Always pass on the left and give a warning (either say “on your left” or ring a bell).
Never throw trash (like gel wrappers) on the road or trail. Keep it with you until you can dispose of it properly.
Starting with road cycling can be a bit challenging, but it’s a rewarding activity that’s great for both fitness and fun.
Remember, everyone was a beginner at some point, so don’t be intimidated. Start slow, learn the basics, and most importantly, enjoy the ride!