Beginners Guide to Riding Road Bicycles

Beginners Guide to Riding Road Bicycles
For beginners, road bikes can sometimes seem a little intimidating, and the first few moments on one of these machines may not do much to dispel this initial impression. Road bikes are narrow and fast, the tires are no more than one inch thick, and steering is precise and hyper-responsive. With practice, however, early awkwardness quickly yields to a sense of pleasure and satisfaction. Furthermore, cycling is an effective, low-impact calorie burner and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Purchase the necessary safety equipment. A proper helmet and good set of gloves are standard gear for any cyclist. Forget fashion for a time, and worry about protecting your head in the event of an accident. A good road helmet can run $100 or more, but it's an invaluable investment. Gloves will offer your hands much needed padding, and comfort, as you spend an increasing amount of time on the bike. They will also save your hands from painful scrapes if ever you take a spill.
Step 2
Invest in padded cycling shorts. No bicycle saddle will ever be as comfortable as your couch at home, but a good pair of padded shorts will certainly help. Along with being light and form fitting, bicycle shorts incorporate a chamois pad that reduces friction and the potential for bacteria build up. Prices on padded cycling shorts vary wildly, but expect to pay close to $100 for a good pair.
Step 3
Purchase cleated cycling shoes for your road bike pedals. Cleated shoes, which clip into the pedal, allow the cyclist to exert power through the entire pedal stroke, increasing efficiency and bike handling. While in an empty parking lot, practice clipping into and out of your pedals as you're coming to a stop.
Step 4
Practice riding in an open parking lot. This is a good place to start. Choose a large parking lot where there are little to no obstructions. If necessary, go early in the morning before traffic build-up. Practice shifting gears, using both the right and left shifter in a concerted effort.
Step 5
Join a group ride. Once you've become comfortable riding your road bike, check with your local bike shop for group ride information. Tell them of your novice status, as not all group rides are alike. Slower, beginner rides may be organized at different times than fast, competitive rides. Don't get in over your head. Learning to ride in a group will sharpen your bike handling skills and make you a stronger, smarter, more efficient cyclist. Plus, you'll acquire valuable knowledge of the best and safest places to ride in your area.

Article Written By Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is a writer living in Savannah, Ga. He has been writing for over 10 years and his work has appeared on various online publications. A collection of his short stories was published in spring 2010. He is a graduate of Appalachian State University.

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