Cycling is for everyone, from four-year-old kids to old pensioners. Not only is it a brilliant way to have some good fun, but it also has numerous health and fitness benefits. Cycling is an excellent and even enjoyable physical activity which offers you positive aspects.
Health Benefits of Taking Up Biking
You may know that you can drop unwanted weight with biking. You may also see that it can help strengthen muscles and give you better endurance. What you may not know are the many other health benefits of taking up biking. Here are some of the health benefits, beyond weight loss and endurance, to consider.
You can do all the cardio you want in the gym, but at the end of the day, the best cardio workout is to take up biking. Biking helps you take notice of the strain on your heart, the issues you may be having with your heart health, and any weak spots you have. You can use your bike riding schedule to help your concerns and help set goals to strengthen your heart health. This will help build your heart and make it stronger to help keep your body functioning at top condition during and after your ride.
One of the health benefits of biking that many people do not think of is the stress release it can offer. Bike riding gets your blood moving, your heart pumping, and works out the stress that builds up in your muscles and joints. That means that you start to release stress throughout the body physically. Eventually, this physical release will become an emotional one. As you ride more often, you will discover that you are calmer, your breathing pattern is more steady, and that you can now feel relaxed for the rest of your day.
If you find that you are sitting throughout your day and that you are developing joint stiffness, then biking may help. You may find that after riding on a routine basis will start to help with joint mobility. You will find that your body, when well hydrated, can lubricate your joints more. This cuts down on joint inflammation and swelling. It also reduces the chances of pain in your joints and stiffness throughout the day. You will have to take on a routine biking schedule to feel this benefit. It will take time, but you will start noticing a difference over time, and you may find biking is something you need to help your joints on an ongoing basis.
Keeping these positive aspects in mind, you can give attention to particular areas of your health you would like to improve. This should help you make more reasonable goals for yourself and organize training plans for forthcoming biking events in a more distinct and personalized way.
What to Know about Base Cycling Training
Training for upcoming biking events may seem like a simple task. You find a bike trail, figure out what your goals are, and get started. Though this is a traditional method of cyclist training, there is another form of exercise that may give you better results. This type of training is called base training, and it is something you can do at home with just a few pieces of equipment. Here is what you need to know about this form of training and how to work it into your routine.
The first thing you will need to do proper base training is the right equipment. This means you will need to purchase a cycle trainer. What this does is give your bike a stationary foundation. It will hold the wheels of your bike in place. It can be adjusted for inclines and can be set it up in small spaces. If you have the room for your bike, you have the room for the cycle trainer.
Endurance and Resistance
When you first start with cycle trainers, you will need to start slow. This means you will need to likely start with no resistance and work your way up to a resistance level as your endurance builds. You will need to make sure that you are genuinely building your endurance and not just your muscles. For example, the faster you build up the resistance before you are ready, the stronger your leg muscles may become. However, your endurance may stay the same, meaning that your muscle system is prepared to ride in a 5k, but your endurance may still be stuck at a 3k level.
Routine is Key
The key to any base training is not in the equipment or the endurance and resistance balancing out. The trick to base cycling training is routine. You can’t do this once a week and expect to see results in a decent amount of time. Ideally, you need to be doing this on a routine basis so that you are working your body. Look at this type of training as any other physical training. If you want to drop weight or build muscle, you don’t go to the gym only once a week and expect results in a short period. You need a routine with that just as you do with this.
Base training is not something that fits for everyone, but if you are looking for results that you can get with any time schedule, and regardless of weather, it may be for you. Keep in mind, this will not prepare you for long uphill rides or rocky terrain, but for typical road cycling events, it may be just the thing you have been looking for.
Beginner’s Cycle Considerations
As a newbie to the world of cycling, you may be experiencing the confusion of buying a bike. Most people are concerned when they first buy a bike since it isn’t all that simple. There is more to it than just a type or a name brand. You have a lot to consider. Before you get overwhelmed and just go with a store suggestion, consider the following cycle options.
As a beginner, a hybrid bike may be your ideal option. There are a few reasons why. The first is because it works on all terrain. It is suitable for road or rough mountain terrain.
If you aren’t sure how you will be using your bike, or how often, then this bike will work for you. It can be an all-purpose answer to let you try cycling and work out what type of cyclist you are. In other words, it is a cost-effective option that gives you a workable and flexible opportunity.
Beyond the purchase of the bike and how you will use it, there is also the question of where and how you will store it. You need to decide if you have the space to store a bike and how large of an area you have. This needs to be considered in your measurement and your purchase. For example, if you have a small space, then a folding option may be ideal. If you have a garage, you should decide if hanging the bike is an option for storage. If it is, you want to make sure you buy the proper hooks for it, so you don’t damage your bike or your garage.
The budget consideration is not just for the initial purchase of your cycle. You need to consider how much you will be using it and how in-depth you may become with your cycling endeavors. If you plan on doing events, long rides, trail rides, and more, then you will need to consider the upkeep and costs. You need to decide what you can afford and what you want to toss into your cycling later down the road. This would be the time to consider doing a few events to see how costly they can become.
Tools Every Cyclist Should Have
You already know that you are going to have to maintain your bike. That means having the proper lube for the gears, pedals, and chains. It also means having the right tools. You can purchase a bike tool kit at most cycle stores. The problem with this is that it won’t do you much good if you don’t know what you need if the kit has what you need, and how to use the tools properly. Here are the necessary tools that every cyclist should have, and every kit you consider should have.
If you do not have any other tool that you keep in on during every ride, a chain checker is one you should consider if not make mandatory. This checker is small and helps you judge if you are having any severe wear on your chain. It can help you decide if you need to adjust the chain, replace the chain, or if there is a critical issue with the chain and cogs. Keep in mind, severe breakdown of the chain and wear on the chain can cause problems with your cogs, which can become a costly issue.
You need to have a bike pump. There is no other way to put it. It is simply a need. Some people do have electric bike pumps they keep at home that can inflate a new bike tire quickly. You can also find backup bike pumps that are collapsible and can go with you. These can come in very handy during events, longer bike trails, and overnight biking trips. Make sure that the pump can accommodate your bike and that you have it as a backup as well as a main unit. You never know, just as with any tire set, when you may have a flat.
Combination Wrench Set
You can buy some wrench sets, but the ideal one for biking is the compact set that has multiple wrenches in one device. This can be carried with you and is suitable for quick repairs. Remember, one wrench size will not do it. You will need multiple wrenches if the repair on your bike is bad enough. Make sure your wrenches are heavy duty, stainless steel, and, if possible, designed for bike use.
There are more tools that you can use, and some tools that may be specifically for certain types of bikes. If you have the basic tools listed here, you can handle most of the issues and maintenance that you will need to focus on.
Beginner Cycling Mistakes to Avoid
When you first start cycling, you may think it is as easy as well, riding a bike. The truth is, advanced, and even intermediate cycling can be vastly different than the typical beginner biking you may remember from your childhood. There are some mistakes you can make that can hurt you, hurt your bike, and even become costly on repairs or injuries. To avoid these mistakes, you need to know what they are. Here are a few of them that you should avoid.
Ignoring Body Limits
One of the most common lead-ups to injury in beginner cyclists is ignoring or not knowing your body’s limits. Before you join a biking event, take on a long trail ride or do something else that exerts your body and energy to test your limits. If you have not taken a cycle on an off-road trail before, then don’t push yourself as a first run. Take the more accessible trails at first. Get used to your bike, your body, and the trails and work your way up. You will eventually get there. There is no rush.
Ignoring the Maintenance of Your Bike
No bike is cheap. You are spending at least a few hundred dollars, no matter which option you choose. If you do not maintain your bike, then you may be facing a costly replacement of parts or the entire bike itself. You need to make sure that you are keeping a maintenance schedule and that you are maintaining the bike properly. It is an investment and should be treated that way. One of the leading ways that people end up with issues on their new bikes is through a lack of repair and maintenance.
Ignoring Proper Clothing
Another issue that many beginners have is wearing the wrong gear. You may feel that you are keeping yourself protected from the elements, but if you are wearing clothing that is not breathable, you could be hurting yourself. You could lead yourself to a cold, flu, or worse. If you don’t layer the clothing properly, you could also have the same effect. Make sure to avoid potential health issues and illness but choosing the right clothing and maintaining it as well as you maintain your bike.
By keeping these mistakes in mind, you can make the preparations to avoid them in your future. You can also span out from them to prevent other errors you may make as well.
How to Start Cycling Training for Upcoming Events
Every event is different, but the core of what you need to do is not. You need to eat right, prepare, and, most of all, train your body to handle the event parameters. If you have an upcoming biking event, and your new to them, you may want to know how to get started on a training plan. Here are some tips to help you formulate a plan, stick to it, and make it work for you.
Do a Pre-Run
The first and most crucial step is to figure out where you are about being ready for the event. Map out an area at a local bike trail and see how far you get to meet the goal of the actual event. Note any issues you are having. These should include fatigue, having to stop, how long you had to stop, and if you ultimately had to throw in the towel. You should also note if you ran out of the water, became dehydrated, or if you had any pain from the trial run. These notations are everything you should be set as a goal to overcome, fix, or alter to be prepared for the event.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic goals pertains more to the amount of time you are training for the event and setting aside for yourself daily than it does for a time to finish the full event. This especially true if it is your first event. You want to concentrate on building your endurance, hydration, and working your muscles to get them used to the stretching and activity the event will require. You also want to do this at a decent but slow pace, so you are not causing injury. Some apps help you pace yourself and help you log your progress as well.
So, you did your trial run and noted anything related to your performance. You took those notes and converted them into a solid 8-week plan leading up to the event to give yourself plenty of time to adjust and prepare. Now, you need to work on weekly assessments. These assessments use the same path that you configured for the pre-runn of the event. Once a week, ride the same trail and make notes to compare to your original progress. Note changes and note progress. You can take this information to adjust your goals and training accordingly.
These tips will help you formulate a training plan that can be changed based on the event.
What to Expect During Your Bike Fitting
You may have heard a lot of people in the bike community talking about getting fitted for a bike. Some people just got to a bike store or store that has a small bike sales area, and straddle the bike to see if it fits them. If it does, they buy that bike already assembled. This is fine, but if you want a bike that is going to be used for events, for more than casual cycling, and fitness, you want one that fits you well. For that, you need to be equipped. This is what you need to expect during a fitting.
Initial Inseam Measurement
The key to a bike fitting is getting that initial inseam measurement. This is done by a professional and will consist of a size that starts at the base of your foot or inner arch and goes up to your pubic bone. This number is done on both sides of your body with your legs straddled apart as if you are straddling a bike. That number is then converted to centimeters, multiply by .67, and the final configuration refers to the inches that your bike needs to be.
Type of Bike Options
After your inseam measurement has been taken and calculated, it will be time to figure out the type of bike you want. You may not think that this will matter, but it does. You may want a little give for certain bikes. Keep in mind a traditional cruiser bike is designed much differently than a bike made for road or mountain biking. This means that your bike measurement is used to determine which bike is best for the style you want and plays significantly into what you may be able to purchase or what you may find as an ideal option for you.
Pedals and Accessories
During your fitting, you will try several bikes to determine what you like and what fits your measurements. During this time you will also look at pedals and other accessories. All of these items play into creating the best possible purchase for your needs and the best bike for your needs. You will be asked several questions. Keep in mind; you do not have to buy the bike that day or all the accessories you are shown. You are simply being shown what is available based on the appropriate measurement you are given.
Keep in mind, for a true bike fitting; you will need to go to a bike store. Department stores will likely not offer this service, and if they do, it won’t be as accurate or professional as a bike store will offer.
Steps to Take to Drop Weight with Biking
If you have been trying to lose weight, you may have already tried several options. These options may have been too hard on your joints, back, or other body parts. This means you may be looking for something easier on your body while still giving you the weight loss results you are looking for. This is where biking comes in. Here are some steps to take to drop weight with biking.
Make a Routine
The routine of your weight loss through biking is vital. You can’t expect to get results just riding one day a week. The trick to that is, you can’t expect to see a weight loss if you are riding ten minutes on one day and an hour on another. Routine and consistency must be used. Make sure you are planning out the days you ride, the time you ride, and the days you take off. On top of planning that out, make sure you are sticking to the plan as well. It won’t help just to write it down and not follow through.
When you ride, you need to try to go for some kind of resistance. This is because resistance makes your body work more. This makes your body work harder, your heart pumps harder, and it eventually helps you burn fat and calories at a faster rate. It also speeds your metabolism, so you are dropping weight. As you ride more you will start to find that the resistance you start with is not giving you a challenge. Every time you feel unchallenged, change the resistance and you will notice a difference again.
Mix It Up
If you are using biking trails for your first routine, mix it up a bit. Try different trails as well as try some base training. Have a base training station ready, so when it is too cold, too hot, or too rainy, you have an option that still fits into your routine. You can still workout, still ride, and still drop weight while working on your resistance levels. You can even choose to mix it up weekly by changing your trail daily or switching your trails weekly.
What to Know about Using GPS with Your Cycle
When you start cycling more often, you may find yourself on trails that you are unfamiliar with. These trails are usually marked in an app or a GPS based program of some kind. You may be used to using GPS for various applications in your car on your smartphone. What you may not know is how to translate that same usage to your cycle. Here is what you need to know to get the most out of using your GPS with your cycle effectively.
Stand Alone Options
The first thing you need to know about using a GPS with your cycle is the option of going with a stand-alone. There are several benefits to this overusing your smartphone. The first is that you can find maps for bike trails and add them to your GPS system. These maps may not be routed on your smartphone GPS as most are off-road trails and do not show up on map applications. This makes a stand alone GPS ideal for people who are doing mountain bike trails.
Some Maps Are Not Available
There is a misconception that GPS devices log all trails, maps, and locations. This is not entirely true. Though there are maps you can purchase that show pre-made trails, some may not be available. In these cases, you have a few options. The first is to make your own trail map by using an app on your smartphone that uses GPS to track your movement. You can also just keep a GPS that lets you know roughly where you are, and you can go it on your own. You can also join an online group that allows you to pay a small fee to access trail maps in your area and download them to use with your smartphone or GPS system.
If you plan on using a GPS for your biking, you will need the right equipment. Though you could use voice turn by turn instructions, that could pose an issue later on. This will not help you when you have an issue of the map, not showing up or being complete on your current system. Instead, consider using a phone or GPS mount for your bike. This allows you to place it in the center front of your bike, where you can easily reference it without causing issues with safety.
These are just a few things to know about using a GPS with your cycle. Keep in mind; there are multiple GPS devices and methods. Once you start using the basic GPS system, you will begin to grow and understand how you want to branch out. This will lead you to the methods and systems that work best for you and your cycling style.
Cycling Apps that Every Bicyclist Should Consider
You may not think of apps when you are cycling. The truth is, depending on your goals for your ride and what you are doing, several apps can be beneficial. These apps range from comprehensive and detailed information to basic apps to help with specific biking issues. Here are a few of the apps, what to know about them, and how best to use them for your cycling.
Strava is the go-to app for cyclists that not only want to record their distance and other information while also posting it to a group with leaderboards. If you like a competitive concept, social media, and mass group interaction, then Strava is the ideal app for you. It became very well-known during the last Thai Fruit Festival held by YouTube celebrities DurianRider and Freelee when it became an app that you not only had be registered with but also had to have a certain amount of miles recorded to attend the festival.
Map My Ride
Map my ride is very similar to other apps like Map My Run and Map My Fitness. The app syncs with your phone and keeps track of the trail that you have taken. This allows you to go back in a see how you performed on various trails, make notes on trails, and share those trails on social media. You can even map and create your own trail, which can come in handy if you are trying out new areas or preparing for an event.
If your issue is endurance and strength, then Cyclometer may be the app you have been looking for. This app uses GPS, like most other apps, but differently. It keeps track of how you did on the trail and adjusts your path slightly to help build your endurance and strength, making you a better cyclist.
St Johns Ambulance
This app is one you may not think of, but it can come in very handy on the trail. This is especially handy if you are on bike trails that are a bit more remote than others. The St. John’s Ambulance app helps you with first aid for basic injuries or injuries that may happen on specific types of trails. If you have a basic first aid kit, and this app, you should be good to go to at least get you to a doctor.
Though there are many other apps on both the iOS and Android platforms, these are the most popular. Keep in mind; you may want a fitness watch to keep track of your calorie burn and personal body issues as well.
Accessories for Long Distance Bike Trail Riding
Up to this point, you may have been using your bike for short rides, daily bike trail rides, or even events. These events tend to lead you to the option of doing a long-distance bike trail ride. Most of these are overnight and tend to last several days. If this is the kind of bike trail trip you are looking for, then you are going to need the right accessories. Here are a few to consider.
One of the essential items for you to have on a long-distance biking trip is a bike pack. This is usually a small pack that holds your basics, including a small camping set. You may think that it will be very heavy, but you can find packs that can mount to your bike or be carried on your back without adding too much weight. You ideally are looking for one that is weatherproof, waterproof, and can hold your gear easily.
Sometimes a simple water bottle is not enough. This is especially true on long-distance bike trail riding. You should have a water bladder that is easy to refill, easy to use water purification in, and has a water filter. This will allow you to use it with fresh water resources on the trail and keep you hydrated without having to refill your bottle often. It also frees up the bottle space for a small pack that can hold other items like a first aid kit.
Lightweight Towel and Clothes
Make sure that, at the very least, you are packing a lightweight change of clothing and towel. These should be items that can dry quickly and fold up to take up very little space. You can usually find these in kits or beginner supply options. You can keep these on your back, or you can attach them to a camping set if you have one with you. If you want, also include some lightweight trail clothing that is not part of the riding. This will be more comfortable for you when you are done riding.
These accessories are all geared for multiple weather conditions, all forms of terrain, and will give you options that are easy to switch out if your environment changes. The most essential accessory for long-distance bike trail riding is your mind. Make sure that you know your situation, the trail, and have what you need to make the ride and stay easy.
Clothing Tips and Advice for Cyclists
When you become an avid cyclist, you will find that the essential clothing will not do. You need to get specific clothing for the environment and clothing that does various things for you while you are cycling. This may sound strange, but the truth is, there are many different options to consider. Here are a few of the basic cyclist clothing options you should have if you plan on making this cycling endeavor a lifestyle.
Be Warm, but not Too Warm
Okay, being warm but not too warm may sound confusing. This means you want clothing that is suited for the weather, but not the extreme end of the weather. For example, you want to protect your body against wind in extreme cold. However, you will still be exerting energy. That means you will sweat. If you do this, you are adding a layer of dampness to your body that will catch the cold wind. This could cause severe health issues and damage. Instead, you want a goretex or similar option that will keep you warm, break the wind, and still allow your skin to breath so you aren’t sweating and causing health risks, but you are always warm and protected.
Layer Your Clothing
One of the most important things is to layer your clothing. You want to make sure that you can take off or add on anything that you need as you are cycling. If it gets too cold for you, have a jacket that can be put in quickly. If you are too warm, have a small pack that you can put the clothing in. This is vital to ensuring that you are okay and that you are safely sticking alongside the climate.
Keep it Simple
Your entire clothing option and additions should be compact. You should be able to add them to a pack without adding much weight at all. This means buying the lightest weight, most comfortable, and most weatherproof gear available. This can take some time. Most cycling outfits are made of lightweight material, but it may hold onto the water or not dry quickly. This adds to the weight if you run into rain. Keep the importance of the gear in mind, the length of your journey, if you will be staying overnight outdoors, your other gear, and any carrying accessories you need.
You can buy most clothing options at local cycle stores. If you can’t find the clothing, you can order from specialty stores online. Make sure you have your correct measurements when ordering.