How to Get Started
By Andy Brown, posted 12 December 2017
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So, it is 2018 and you have resolved to get fit. Maybe even promised yourself to ride the bike a bit more. So... What... Is... Stopping... You...?
There's probably all sorts of things buzzing in your head. You could, quite probably, be negatively predicting all kinds of things that could happen or that need doing instead of mounting up on the trusty bicycle for a healthy spin out. It might be you’re nervous of the weather. Maybe the bike itself is not in the best of nick? Maybe you’re not in the best condition either.
Well. There is no excuse not to ride the bike. I would wager, that if you wander down the high road or get in the car, you might see people or all ages, sizes, shapes and sex wobbling around on bikes. They will probably be doing it with a smile on their face. I often see at least one person twice my age (I’m 51 so I’m exaggerating) on a shopping bike in normal clothes having a great time.
So, let’s ask the question again. What’s stopping you?
Let’s break it down and see if we can overcome some of the barriers to cycling – not the infrastructure or road safety issues, just the personal ones. Here is the JRtB top 5 tips to put yourself back on the bike.
Cycling can take up a chunk of time, but only if you let it. Keep it simple and you can go out for 30-minutes. Ride to the shops. Ride to the end of the road. Then the next day, go a bit further. If you worry about your kit, just take it steady. You don’t need much if you only go around the block at first. Once you get the bug the secret is to make cycling part of your routine. The best way is to include as your way of getting to and from work. If you can’t do that, then set aside a few hours at the weekend. 18-holes of golf takes over three hours, sometimes four. A football game is 90-minutes. Rugby is 80. Hockey, 70-minutes. The gym? Up to you. Cycling? Again, up to you. But you can always fit it in. Trust us on this.
No runs a marathon without building up to the full distance. Everyone practices. Athletes train. Writers go through all kinds of drafting processes before they crack that first novel (or blog). Break down your effort to become the next Chris Froome, Tom Simpson, Rochelle Gilmore, Danny Macaskill or Dame Sarah Storey. Take small steps. Don’t splurge on kit. Don’t cycle 40-miles first time out. Take it easy. Enjoy the journey. Because that is what it is. Just ride the bike and enjoy the wind on your face (it will be there most of the time) and the sun on your back (in the summer).
Set a target
You’ve taken the small steps. One of them is to focus on a goal. It might be a monthly goal to ride a fixed distance. It might be to measure your speed (we’d advise not being to obsessive about this – speed is transient). Or it might be that you want to ride up Mont Ventoux [insert link to video of Boris Bike challenge]. Or, you might just want to ride say 2,500 miles in a year – which is about 50-miles every week. That’s feasible in a single ride each week, or maybe two or three over seven days broken into bite size chunks. Maybe you’ve seen the lycra army out riding at weekends and wondered what they’re doing? Search British Cycling website for ‘sportives’, find one near you. Start with the 60km route and then work up to the 100km. But enjoy it.
Check the bike out
Before you go for that ride. Prior to making the plan, setting the targets and those small steps, check the bike. How is it? Dusty. Rusty. Covered in cobwebs. Gears sticky? Brakes stiff? Is it at the back of the garage? Clean it. Lightly oil it. Check the brakes. Spin the wheels. Go through our recommended checks [insert link here] in our winter advice ideas and the maintenance tips [insert link]. Take it for a gentle spin. Is the seat the right height? Are your legs just about straight, but not quite, as you turn through the bottom of the pedal stroke? Small things, but all geared to make the ride comfortable and then it builds enjoyment. Which is what the whole thing is about.
Ride with friends and family
Cycling is a very sociable thing. And if you’re doing it for the first time in a while, then it will be a lot easier with people you trust and that will help put that smile on your face if you’re feeling a bit nervous and are wobbling too much in the gutter. Talk the idea of riding your bike over with friends first – get some morale support. Then take those small steps and set those goals together. Then #justridethebike becomes a routine; it becomes a joy and you’ll be fitter, healthier and happier. Because that is what riding a bicycle can do for you.
Now, don’t you feel better?
Watch out for more articles and ideas like these coming soon. We will have advice about organised rides to join, kit to buy and maybe even ideas about upgrading your bike when you’re ready. Meantime, just ride the bike you’ve got. Enjoy.
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