Cycling – 5 Tips for Crushing Your First Year!

Many adults pick up the hobby of cycling after years of not pedaling a bike for fun, exercise, mental health or competition. 

I was the same. 10+ years off the bike during my 20’s with the occasional ¼ mile ride down the street. 

Everyone has different reasons for stopping. Many because of getting a car at 16 never enjoy the benefits and lightheartedness of riding with a friend enjoying good conversation again. 

Because riding a bike after 16 can be viewed as childish once all your friends are driving fixed up cars.

Others let life, adulthood and fear of too much cardio diminishing their gains. (This was me.) 

About a year ago a friend who was always rolling into my Fitness class a few minutes late with funny clothes on invited me on a Saturday morning 6am ride.

Over confident in my ability after 16+ years working out I felt like this should be simple. But nothing prepared me for my first 35 miles.

Two plus hours of cramping, sugar dropping and fear of the high speeds! A road bike can get up to going down a hill. (40+mph) 

After recovering with copious amounts of pasta I was intrigued by a new fitness challenge.

Cycling. Specificity road cycling.

Tours, bike packing, drafting were all new terms to me that refreshed my love for fitness, new challenges, adventures and continued asking my beginners mindset to be open. 

Of course I was curious. What were the standards/benchmarks in the cycling world?

A Century Ride (100 miles) seems to be a monumental benchmark that cyclists strive for. 

So is keeping an average above 20 mph. This can be quite impressive to witness within the local cycling scene. 

In my first year of cycling I hit a few personal milestones:

  1. 112 Miles Bike Packing Adventure on a Mountain Bike (12 Hours)
  2. 100 Miles on a Road Bike (6 Hours)
  3. 112 Miles Bike Packing Adventure through the Keys on a Road Bike (6 Hours)
  4. One Ironman (6 Hours) Cycling a Ironman- How to 70.3 (Tips for Transition)

These are my Top Tips & Observations for Cycling your first Year! 

Get A Program!

In the first 16 weeks of cycling I did my first 100 mile ride with the comment from a friend who had been riding for 5+ years “I’ve never even done that!” Without a program or direction you may never understand how someone else achieves/completes a goal. With weekly progressions it becomes more so that this Saturday is 20 miles and next is 25 miles. Compared to I’ve only ever ridden 20 miles I don’t see how 100 is possible. 

Get your Bike Fitted!

I rode my first 6 months with the only suggestion from others if your seat is hip height you’re good. Not till I started running off the bike training for an Ironman did I get hobbling Knee Pain! After numerous suggestions to visit an older man 90 minutes away did I get fitted for my bike. Lying, standing, kneeling, on the bike, beside the bike,shoes on/off and a white board for math problems, the experience of getting fitted lasted 90 minutes and I will never forget what he told me. “My goal is for you to be pain free”. I went through 6 months of back, knee and arm pain from riding a bike that wasn’t setup for my body measurements. 

Consistency!

Just like with lifting weights doing random exercises on random days gets you un-measurable results. So does “Junk” miles. If you ride whenever you want however long you want and have a specific goal it will be frustrating not understanding why it’s taking so long to reach 50,60,100+ mile markers. 

Buy a Used Bike!

Buying a used carbon bike off eBay or Craigslist is 50% cheaper than from a store. Buying/selling a bike you’re not satisfied with can be time consuming and frustrating. Buying a used bike with upgrades for half off a new bike with stock products is a viable option. Garages in every town are full of bikes never ridden by people with good intentions. Make an offer! 

Dog Spray!

If dogs love chasing runners they LOVE chasing bikes. Especially if you live in more rural areas. Many dog owners on back roads don’t respect fence or leash laws. I witnessed/heard many stories of crashes, bites and broken helmets all while the owner is in the yard saying don’t worry he’s harmless. I felt bad about it at first but breaking a bone or the dog getting hit by traffic is worse than 5 minutes of discomfort for the pup while he hungrily chases his prey (you). 

Cycling can be an amazing revisit to friendship, fitness or mental clarity. Riding can be a life long daily indulgence of fresh air and vitamin D. 

When I backpacked through Europe in London, Amsterdam and France I saw so many individuals with full heads of white hair cruising around town, carrying groceries and enjoying the city.  https://youtu.be/KTT7i3SKpMQ

Exploring fitness changes throughout our whole lives if we are consistent with moving daily. Cycling can be a part of that journey.

If you like this post check this one out – New River trail 100 (cycling and surviving)

This post is can be found here – https://artnotego.com/cycling-5-tips-for-crushing-your-first-year/

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