Riding Like a Rookie – Avoid These Common Cycling Mistakes
Cycling is a fun and healthy experience. Not only because you can enjoy the landscapes you see along the way, but you can also race, make new friends and discover new places that you’ve never been before. And the best of all is that a bicycle doesn’t cost a lot, so everyone can enjoy this fantastic activity.
However, if you are new to cycling, you might be making some mistakes. It’s all right, we all have to start somewhere. Still, in order to ensure your safety and improve your overall cycling experience, we compiled a list that presents the most common cycling mistakes. This way, you can stay away from them.
- Not Having Any Tools on You
Ever wondered why a driver always has a spare tire or a toolbox? It is because the driver prepares himself in case his car has a flat tire or needs a light repair. You can do the same by having a couple of patches, a multi-tool and a mini pump secured in your saddlebag.
You don’t want to have a flat tire or something way more severe in the middle of nowhere. Always be prepared, and you won’t have to turn a two-hour ride into a six-hour one.
- Overestimating Your Capabilities
Some rookies do a couple of spins in a park near their home and think they are ready to go riding alongside Lance Armstrong. Don’t think you can go straight from the couch to explore a demanding mountain bike trail or go on a long cycling adventure. These things require a lot of endurance. The reality is your body isn’t ready for that kind of effort.
If you want to get ready for such events, always push yourself with longer trips. If you did ten miles last week, this week you will do fifteen, and you will increase the distance until you achieve what you want. You will need to let your body adjust first, and then tackle a high mileage trip.
- Competing Like There’s No Tomorrow
If you want to compete but you are still a rookie, don’t expect a decent performance. Many rookies start the event pedaling like a rocket, but they burn out too quickly and fatigue quickly creeps up on you. Being exhausted and feeling sick might make any beginner give up on the race.
An excellent method you can use to train yourself for bike races is to cycle slowly, to warm-up in the first third of the contest. Then, you can increase the rhythm, and in the final third you go full speed. Practice this method, and you will have better results at the next bike race event.
- Not Adjusting the Saddle Height
A big problem I see with most beginners is they seem to be struggling to pedal. The main reason why this happens is because they didn’t adjust the saddle at the right height. Riding a bike in this manner, for an extended period, will cause knee pain, and that surely isn’t anyone’s goal.
You need to adjust the seat height so that your knee should bend just slightly, when your pedal stroke reaches the bottom. That is the correct seat height for you. Of course, you may require some small adjustments here and there, so talk to a friend or an expert who can help you.
- The Dreaded Corners
This isn’t much different from riding through corners with a car. You need to break before you reach it. Breaking to late can result in you losing control of the bike and kissing the ground, which will hurt both your knees and your pride if you’re riding with friends. Luckily, you can avoid this by breaking gently before reaching any corner.
- Not Taking Care of Your Bike
I’ve seen some rookies using bikes which were dirty, muddy, some even having rust problems. These are the same people who complain their bikes do not perform as well as they used to. Some of them are even convinced they need expensive bikes.
The problem is if you don’t clean your bike and do some maintenance, you might injure yourself in the long run. Clean the bike, see if some parts need oiling, and you will get to use your bike for a long time. If some parts are damaged beyond repair, replace them with new ones.
- Not Wearing a Helmet
Some rookies, especially the teenagers who want to impress others, skip the helmet. They either don’t invest in one, have one but don’t wear it because it doesn’t look “cool” or for other reasons. Wearing a helmet is crucial, if you fall off a bike. Don’t be a fool because you might end up regretting it. It’s your life at stake.
- Riding In a Pack
If you want to go riding with a group of people who are more experienced than you, stay at the back of the pack. Because you are inexperienced and can’t fully control the way you ride, you might end up falling and taking a couple of riders with you. The best way to ensure everything goes smoothly is to follow the proper group ride etiquette.
- Having No Energy
If you are planning to go on a long ride, either eat more than usual or bring some snacks with you. Pedaling continuously can drain your energy fast, and if you don’t have something to eat, you won’t be able to continue your ride.
We hope this list was comprehensive enough, and you now know what cycling mistakes to avoid. Remember to always ask an expert or a more experienced friend for advice, if you are not sure of something.
John T Lyons grew up riding the canyons of San Diego on his single speed Huffy. After a stint working for Shelby American in automotive and then in the Aerospace industry, JT started Moment Bicycles. He developed a "better way to buy a bike" using his engineering problem-solving skills. Learn more at http://momentbicycles.com