The first thing I (Gerry) do in preparing myself for a great day of cycling is to make sure that I’m going to maximize the fun. I’m not one of those cyclists who wants to make it difficult, or complex. Cycling should be simple. The adventure is to be experienced; you shouldn’t get distracted by the intricacies of preparing.
The advantages of cycling, for me, is that it allows me to clear my head, break a sweat, and take in the many awesome sights and sounds of the outdoors. It is also very easy on your joints and bones as it is a non-impact exercise. It is my hope that this will inspire others to get out and cycle as well. Therefore, I wanted to make this an easy, go-to guide for anyone who wants to get on a bike and ride, to do just that.
There are just 5 areas I am going to touch on for basic preparation, though I do like to be more thorough about twice/year. Feel free to adjust as needed, and do what makes you comfortable.
- Let’s start with the bike itself– this is the most important step. I begin by looking at the most fundamental things.
- Tires– your tires are what is touching the pavement, so have them pumped up to proper tire pressure. This can be found on the side of the tire. Make sure there is nothing embedded in the tread that could possibly cause a flat. Also, spin the tires to make sure there is no wobble.
- Brakes– Lift your bike, spin the tires and make sure your brakes stop the wheel all together, both front and back.
- Seat– Personally, I always have to adjust my seat level to make sure my leg is at full extension when the pedal is all the way down.
- Lubricant– it is important to lubricate the chain. We live near the ocean, so it is especially important for us, but for anyone, keeping the chain lubricated helps to reduce squeaking and makes for a smooth ride.
2. The route– We’re fortunate to be in an area where there are many fun and interesting places within walking (or cycling) distance. When you are ready to ride, find routes that you are comfortable with and where you feel safe. These days there are plenty of greenway trail areas, especially in larger cities. You can access specific greenway trails through phone apps or websites ahead of time. There is a great trail system called Rails to Trails that is converting old railway lines into bike trails throughout the country. In our town, there are also bike routes, so you can always check your local area for the bike routes and ordinances.
- The app– The Rails to Trails system discussed in the route section above has an app for walking and biking that you can check out. I enjoy using a phone app that tracks your route and tells you the miles you went, calories burned, etc. It is called Bikeometer. Keeping track of your bike rides are a great way of not only seeing how far you rode, but to document how well you improve each ride.
- Clothing– For starters, I always wear a helmet. Some folks prefer the bike uniform: the tight black shorts, tight fitting race shirt, with the hard soled shoes. I prefer to wear what I find comfortable. I like a basic t-shirt, exercise shorts, and regular tennis shoes. If you’re planning on stopping in somewhere on your route, you will be much more comfortable in casual clothing.
- The Reward– A favorite of mine is to stop at a local pub for a beer to reward myself on my cycling achievement. If my cycling took place in the morning hours, I like to stop at a coffee shop for a refreshing beverage. Hence, why for the clothing topic, I like to go for the casual option.
Now you are ready. Get out, ride, enjoy yourself and finish your ride at your local pub and reward yourself for your cycling journey.