In an earlier post we mentioned that besides walking to get fit, cycling is also a great non-impact sport that can provide you with the means to give your body a good workout, without having to submit it to joint impacting stress like if you were running or jogging.
But if you haven’t saddled up on a bike in a long time, or if you’ve never ridden a bicycle other than when you were a child, there are a few things you need to learn or re-learn if you're going to peddle right and be safe while you’re doing it. So, read on and let’s see if you’re the next Olympic cyclist to hit the open road, track, bike path or even a mountain trail.
We always make a point of saying it, but we mention this because it is so very important. Before you embark on any new exercise endeavor, please consult with your physician, to make sure everything is a go, “Health-Wise” so that you can bike without having any medical issues.
For beginners, any good working bike will do. You might have an old 10-speed cruiser, a shopping bike, (you know the kind I mean, the one with the basket in the front or the saddle over the rear fender??), or even an old bargain mountain bike that you could use. Remember, at this point, your only testing the waters of cycling. But if your serious about getting into the sport, believe me, there is a bike out there with your name on it. Make sure you visit a trusted local bike shop and let them show you whats hot on the market right now. And better yet, they will be the ones to be able to select the right "ride" for you!
If you're buying a second-hand bike or you have an old bike that's been gathering dust, consider having it serviced at a bike shop to ensure it's roadworthy. This is probably the best money you're ever going to spend, the shop will tell you right up front what you need in order to get your new/old purchase “Road Worthy” so you have no concerns as your biking miles away from home.
If you're buying a new bike, there are lots of models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes, and mountain bikes are most popular. Again, your friends at the reputable bike shop can advise you on the correct frame size and help you select a bike to suit your budget and the type of cycling you want to do.
If you haven't cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park. Practice riding single-handed, so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.
Just like you found out at the beginning of your walking regimen, setting goals and measuring your progress goes a long way to your following through with those preset goals and allow you to make new ones, once you’ve conquered them. In order to do this while your cycling, it may be a good idea to get yourself a bike computer. Again, this is not for everyone, but if you are really looking at incorporating cycling into your getting healthy lifestyle, a bike computer is what you need, since unlike most GPS devices, watches and monitors for examples, a bike computer is designed to perform just as its name implies, For Biking! One that I like because it covers the basics while providing some neat features is the Garmin Edge Touring Plus Cycling Computer The Edge Touring is just like a car GPS except the routs and features are specifically optimized for bikes. It will guide you to your destination, or tell you how far your ride around town was. You can choose between cycling, tour cycling, and mountain biking modes to calculate the most appropriate route for the type of cycling you, o, taking you on paved roads, unpaved roads, or on paths and trails. With round-trip routing, you can tell Edge Touring how far you’d like to ride and then choose from up to 3 ride options that will bring you back to where you started. So, it goes above and beyond just calculating your distance with it’s built-in GPS features. Again, this bike computer is made for those of us that take our cycling seriously and are looking to not only keep and maintain our healthy lifestyle but to also make sure we vary up our routes in order to keep our biking experiences fresh whenever we can.
We mentioned above that cycling is great as a non-impact way for you to get healthy. It’s been proven that regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.
In order to gain those health benefits your looking for, adults and older adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity each week. A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target, but make sure you're including some bike routes that have a few hills and upward grades in them, remember, this is supposed to be a workout, not a leisurely ride through the country.
Children and young people should do at least an hour (60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous intensity activity every day.
And just so you know the rules for those of us that use the same roads as autos. We have placed them here below, just so you can be aware of them with the hope that we can all enjoy our rides, be them in a car on a bike or on a motorcycle.
In all 50 states, people on bikes are required to follow the same laws as other drivers.
Here are a few key principles that underpin all US traffic laws:
First Come, First Served
Everyone on the road is entitled to the lane width they need. This includes the space behind, to each side and the space in front. If you want to use someone else’s space you must yield to whoever is using it.
Ride on the Right
In the United States, everyone must drive on the right-hand side of the roadway.
Yielding to Crossing Traffic
When you come to an intersection, if you don’t have the right of way, you must yield.
Yielding when Changing Lanes
If you want to change lanes, you must yield to traffic that is in your new lane of travel.
The slowest vehicles on the road should be the furthest to the right. Where you position yourself on the road depends on the location of any parked cars, your speed, and your destination. Always pass on the left.
Bikes can share the same lane with other drivers. If a lane is wide enough to share with another vehicle (about 14 feet), ride three feet to the right of traffic. If the lane is not wide enough to share, “take the lane” by riding in the middle.
When there is a lane that is used for more than one direction, use the rightmost lane going in the direction you are traveling.
There you have it, all good information for those that are new to cycling or even as a refresher for those of us that have been wearing out our bike seats for a while now. Taking up biking, like anything else, and staying motivated is the key to success with your new exercise routine.
Research has shown that if you keep with any new activity for at least 3 weeks, it now becomes part of your body’s habit response. In other words, your body has now been conditioned to expect this new daily/weekly event to take place and you will begin to find it easier to gear up and mount up as you peddle off down the road.