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What Do I Need to Know to Start Cycling For Exercise

You Asked: New to Biking — What Do I Need to Know?

Dear Fit,
Due to a chronic ankle injury, I have been forced to give up running. So I am looking to start cycling, which I have never really done for fitness. I am just looking for a few pointers and/or things you think I should know, and just basically looking for some inspiration. Thanks!
— Cycling Newbie

Sorry to hear about the ankle, that is a bummer, but great that you're looking to biking for exercise. While both forms of exercise work your legs, biking tends to build the quads while running works the hamstrings more. Biking is not considered weight-bearing the way running is, so you should add walking or weight lifting to your fitness routine to make sure your bones are getting stimulated so they stay strong and dense. While nothing makes me feel more free than riding my bike, it can be a gear-heavy sport. To see what I mean, read more.

First of all, you need a bike, and good road bikes can cost a pretty penny. If you live in a major metropolitan area, chances are quite high you can find yourself a great used bike. With the economy the way it is, folks are selling off gear they don't use regularly. Before you start shopping, you should go to a bike store and get sized so you know what size bike you're looking for. A pair of padded shorts will make your ride more comfy. Add to those shorts a set of clipless pedals and cleats (shoes that attach to pedals), which make you much more efficient at pedaling and work all the muscles in your legs more evenly. It is one sport where I have found that good and appropriate gear really make a difference in my enjoyment. I hope I don't even need to say this, but always wear a helmet, and if you're biking at night wear lights. Be conspicuous on the road!

Find a cycling club (here is a directory of clubs) in your area; riding is so much fun in a group and you can learn so much from experienced riders. A great way to meet other cyclists is spinning class. Many serious riders move their workouts indoors for Winter, plus these classes will help you get comfy in the saddle as well as provide a place to work on maximizing your pedal stroke.

I could go on and on, and now I really want to hop on my bike. If you have any tips for a cycling newbie, leave them in the comments section below.


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