Cycling 101

Cycling is a sport that millions of Americans partake in each year, and is not only fun and exhilarating, but a valuable form of exercise as well. Here are 9 cycling tips for anyone who is considering or has already embarked upon their newfound road cycling obsession. Cycling is a great form of exercise that burns fat and calories without the high impact of running. Road cycling can be very beneficial at strengthening your cardiovascular condition as well as your core. These are simple tips to ensure safety, efficiency and proper cycling recovery.

Tip 1

When buying your first cycling bike, go to your local bike shop and get an idea of what style of bike you want. Most road cycle shops will help you in choosing the proper style and size for your height and body type. If you are on a tight budget, use the information you gathered from the bicycle shop and check on craigslist or ebay for that same bike – This can save hundreds of dollars off of retail. Many times, a beginner cyclist will spend $2000 on a new bike, only to realize that they don’t really enjoy cycling! With that said, a budget of $500 is a good place to start. Most bicycle shops will try to up-sell you on high tech components, as that is where they profit the most. Start off with something simple until you decide that cycling is a sport that you can commit to long term. Accessories such as cycling shoes, bicycling jerseys and custom cycle shorts can also be purchased on Ebay for enormous savings.

Tip 2

Once you have decided on a bike and bicycle safety gear, the next step is to find an area in which you can practice getting clipped into your pedals without fear of traffic or falling. It is extremely dangerous to start cycling without being 100% comfortable with the process of clipping into and out of your pedals. Although falling down is something that should be avoided, keep in mind that even the most experienced cyclers fall down. If you know there is a stop sign 100 yards away, mentally start to prepare yourself for the process until you develop a strong comfort.

Tip 3

Once you feel comfortable on your new bike, find a dedicated bike path to start your cycling routine. Riding 3 days a week will gradually and sufficiently building your comfort, endurance and skill on the road. During this period, do not focus on your distance or intensity. Instead, focus on form and comfort. Avoid riding in cycling packs until you feel comfortable enough to navigate safely in larger groups of other experienced cyclers. Although riding in packs makes you more visible from auto traffic, there is a greater risk of colliding with cyclers in the group, specifically for a beginner.

Tip 4

Proper sports supplements are key for optimal performance and recovery. Cycling supplements in particular is an arena in which few breakthroughs have been designed. Supplements that contain key amino acids such as l-Arginine, have been shown to help increase nitric oxide. Increased levels of nitric oxide assist in increasing blood flow, which benefits recovery, performance and protects against sexual dysfunction caused by cycling. Other components in cycling supplements should contain DHEA and a product like guarana for energy. Natural supplements such as vitamin c and green tea can also be beneficial in antioxidation. Although supplements are important, there is no replacement for proper nutrition and rest.

Tip 5

Once you feel comfortable cycling on the road, start to gradually increase your miles and endurance. If you are riding 4 days a week, shoot for 3 days of longer rides at lower intensity and one day of more intense riding. Cycling, like all other sports, requires a variety of training techniques for optimal success.

Tip 6

Do not ride at intense levels and high speeds at all times. You need periods of rest at times, and so do your muscles.

Tip 7

Purchase a heart rate monitor, and use it. A heart rate monitor is essential in keeping your training within the optimal fat burning zone. Consult with your doctor on what your optimal fat burning zone, according to your age, weight, height, and medical history.

Tip 8

It is imperative to rest after long or very intense rides. This can be hard as road cycling can be very addictive. In order to prevent injury and improve performance, adequate rest and sleep are keys for proper recovery. Shocking your body with intense training can cause cortisol levels to increase which is a mechanism in which your body stores fat in order for protection. Continuously burning your body without resting increases cortisol which can cause extra fat storage. If you spend enough time cycling, you will notice there are a ton of overweight bikers. If they are burning 5000 calories on a long ride yet are still overweight, high levels of cortisol can be the cause.

Tip 9

Nutrition and hydration are probably the most important keys for success that most novice cyclers ignore. An hour before any long or intense ride, make sure you eat a meal with carbs, fat and protein. A perfect meal would be a bagel with peanut butter. During your ride, drink plenty of water and eat every 45 minutes. Nuts, bananas or GUE gels are great examples of foods to eat. Hydrate before you are thirsty to prevent dehydration. After your ride, make sure you have a meal with a good amount of carbohydrates as well as protein. A common error that most cyclers commit is over eating post rides. All because you had a good intense ride does not allow you to indulge in thousands of poorly chosen calories.

Cycling remains one of America’s most popular forms of exercise. If done correctly and safely, the benefits of cycling can be immense in total body health. Following these steps should get you on a fresh start and the right path to the invigorating sport of cycling!

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