7 Essential Cycling Tips for Beginners

Oct 05, 2022

Blue bike at sunset.

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Cycling is a fantastic low-impact exercise that burns tons of calories and acts as a reliable alternative transportation method. More people hop on their bikes every day, especially in urban and suburban areas. If you’re just getting started in the cycling world, you’ve come to the right place. Read up on these seven essential cycling tips for beginners to get yourself up to speed.

1. Invest in Protective Gear

Cycling has many benefits, but safety isn’t one of them. You have a high likelihood of suffering a minor injury if you fall. Discomforts such as chafing or eye irritation are also common. Most importantly, you’re more exposed to other vehicles. Although cyclists only make up one percent of commuters, they account for over two percent of crash deaths involving motor vehicles.

You need to protect yourself with these clothing items and protective equipment:

  • Helmet
  • Elbow and knee pads
  • Padded shorts
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Cycling socks and shoes
  • Bright, reflective outerwear

You should also bring a first-aid kit to take care of minor cuts and scrapes. Even the most experienced cyclists fall down sometimes. 

2. Bolster Your Bicycle

You also need to evaluate your bicycle’s condition. Does the body have any dents or vulnerabilities? Does the seat feel comfortable? Do you feel safe riding your bike surrounded by cars and pedestrians? Some people feel safer with an eco-friendly e-bike over a traditional bicycle because they’re sturdier and easier to ride.

Once you find your bike of choice, you should add some these protective modifications to improve its visibility and durability:

  • Tire fenders
  • Puncture-proof tires
  • Front, rear and side lighting
  • Light reflectors
  • Extra mirrors
  • Bell, horn, or another noise

Of course, these precautionary measures won’t make you invincible. That’s why you also need to bring a compact first aid kit to 

3. Ride With Cautious Confidence

You might already be aware that cyclists have a reputation for disobeying traffic laws and interfering with other people on the road. They might say it “saves lives,” but that doesn’t excuse them from operating by different rules. Laws are still laws, and you’re still subject to fines if you break them.

Don’t be one of those annoying cyclists who plays by their own rules. Your movements must be predictable and stay within the confines of the law. Follow all speed limits, red lights, stop signs, yield signs, etc. These are some important day-to-day cycling tips for beginners that you should keep in mind:

  • Watch for open car doors.
  • Use the bike lane, if one is available.
  • Mind your blind spots, just like car drivers do.
  • Send signals with your hands.
  • Let pedestrians know when you’re going to pass them.

Most importantly, you need to ride with confidence. You will run into some unsavory characters. Some cars will get too close for comfort. Some pedestrians will hog the bike lane or give you the stink eye. Other cyclists might overtake you or criticize your riding etiquette. 

All of these awkward situations are rites of passage that every experienced rider has gone through at least once. Treat them as learning opportunities and don’t let them discourage you. Becoming street-wise is a long, painstaking process.

4. Communicate

Cycling is a dangerous activity, as we’ve already established. It’s important that your loved ones know your whereabouts when you’re on the road. Use cycling applications or a platform like WhatsApp to send a tracking link so they can follow your location. Communication is a crucial cycling tip for beginners to stay safe, no matter where they’re riding.

Before every ride, tell someone the route you’re taking and how long it will take. They will know that something is wrong and provide timely assistance if you get injured or stranded.

5. Adjust Your Diet

Cycling burns about 300 calories per 30 minutes. This average doesn’t apply to everyone, of course, but the point still stands: you’re going to expend lots of energy. You need to adjust your diet to improve your body’s athletic performance. These foods are calorie-dense and have lots carbohydrates, glycogen, electrolytes to keep you energized:

  • Bananas
  • Peanut Butter
  • Dates
  • Beetroot
  • Low-sugar cereal
  • Protein/energy bars

Cyclists also tend to be coffee fiends. If you drink coffee every day or even multiple times per day, you’ll fit right in with the cycling community.

6. Don’t Forget Your Hygiene

Cycling is a sweaty activity. Veteran riders always wear socks, shorts and other clothes made of  breathable elastic materials like polyester and nylon. They will help keep you cool and prevent you from getting drenched in sweat. Many cyclists also bring these items along to stay fresh and clean on longer rides:

  • Gym towel
  • Body wipes or moist towelettes
  • Deodorant or body spray
  • Extra change of clothes

It’s not uncommon for cyclists to get covered in water, mud, and other debris. Riding through dirty environments can make the activity more exciting, but you should still try to look and smell presentable.

7. Perform Frequent Bike Maintenance

There are several absolutely crucial cycling maintenance tips for beginners. These preventative tasks will help you avoid major malfunctions and keep your bike in good riding condition:

  • Clean the bike: wash the body with hot soapy water on a regular basis. Use a special degreaser to clean the cassette, chain, crankset and other parts of the drivetrain.
  • Use chain lube: lubricate the chain before you ride in inclement weather or any other wet environment. 
  • Check the tire pressure: perform this task before and after each ride. Invest in a good bike pump to allow for quick and easy reinflation.
  • Master puncture repairs: you need to put together a comprehensive tire repair kit for the inevitable moment when you get a flat tire. No two puncture repairs are the same.

Many beginners are intimidated by the idea of making their own repairs, but they shouldn’t be. Cycling is supposed to be a self-sufficient activity. You don’t have to rely on anyone else. With great freedom comes great responsibility.

Start Your Cycling Journey With Confidence

You will encounter many obstacles on your cycling journey, but that’s what makes the activity so exhilarating. Each ride has a special twist, even if you’re taking the same route. Remember these cycling tips for beginners and you’ll become a hardened veteran in no time.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.