How To

How to get ready for your first bike ride

Off on your first ride?

Are you getting ready to set off on your first ever bike ride or about to head for the hills on the first ride of the year?

Setting out for the first time can be a daunting proposition, so we have come up with the five things you should do before you make your maiden voyage.

How to get ready for your first bike ride: at a glance

  • Be realistic: don’t overestimate how far you can go
  • Prepare your bike: ensure everything is good to go
  • Plan your route: where do you want to ride?
  • What are you wearing: no such thing as bad weather; just bad clothing
  • Bring food and drink: don’t skip out on the important stuff

1/ Be Realistic

It’s been a while since Christmas, and you may or may not have followed through on your New Year’s Resolutions in January, but how fit are you now? Your first ride should’nt be anything spectacular; in fact, we strongly advise against going out and breaking yourself on your first ride. Going out and trying something well above your capabilities might result in damage as well as a mental aversion to getting back on the bike.

Take your first ride to whet your appetite for what’s to come. Make your first ride 10/15 miles long if you are reasonably active, just long enough to get you up a hill or two and not too far from home in case you need help.

If you’re unsure of your fitness levels, start with a short 5-mile bike ride from your home or car, stop at a bench or a café to relax, and then continue.


A pit stop at the café

2/ Prepare your bike

Whether your bike is brand new or not, check to make sure key areas such as your tyres are pumped, your brakes are engaged, and your chain is lubed. Other notable things to check are to ensure your quick release is down and locked plus ensuring everything like gears and brakes are in full working order before you hit the road.

If you’re looking to carry out any maintenance yourself, be sure to check out our handy bike maintenance guide!

If your bike has had a winter tucked away from the cold you may want to think about taking it to a local bike shop for a quick once over as often bikes can quickly seize.


How to get ready for your first bike ride

3/ Plan your route

Planning your route is vitally important before you head out, not only as something to plan that’s within your capabilities but also for safety. Plan your route out and let others like friends and family know in case of an emergency; perhaps plan it for somewhere fairly traffic-free like a cycle path.

There are plenty of online services and applications that may help you plan a route, including cycling-specific apps like StravaRide with GPS, and Mapmyride, as well as Google Maps.

Riders may post their new routes on websites like Ride with GPS, which allows them to describe the route in detail, discuss their riding experiences, and invite others to ride it as well. Simply enter your location, browse the routes, and pick the best one for you.

If you’re looking to find out more information on picking your route, check out our guide to finding the best new routes in your area here:


4/ Think about what you are wearing

If you are a weathered cyclist looking to get out for the first time this year then you may well already know what clothing you are going to be bringing with you on a ride.

Some of the key items you’ll need when setting off is a pair of shorts or trousers. This is depending on the weather and perhaps the level of comfort. A pair of padded shorts, often called bib shorts, are a popular choice for cyclists. Featuring a strap that goes over your shoulders they are a tighter fit to stop loose material bunching and chafing. Bibtights or trousers will help to ensure your whole leg is covered providing you with more heat in the colder months.

During the summer months, a cycling jersey is ideal for your upper half, it wouldn’t be essential on your first few rides perhaps something like a sports t-shirt is sufficient.  In the colder weather, a jersey is ideal as a layering option, and investing in a solid wind- or water-proof jacket is ideal for ensuring the worst of the elements don’t dampen your ride.

For those who are just starting then don’t worry we will list some of the key items, you will need for heading out on the bike!

SummerSpring/AutumnWinter
Bib ShortsBib Shorts/TightsBib Tights
JerseyLeg WarmersBase Layer
SunglassesJerseyJersey
Fingerless GlovesFull Finger GlovesWaterproof Jacket
Wind-proof JacketFull Finger Gloves
Warm Socks

How to get ready for your first bike ride

5/ Bring food & drink

If you’re new to cycling, you’ll be surprised at how fast hunger may hit—and how quickly an energy-sapping bonk can set in while there’s still another large hill to conquer. On your first few trips, bring lots of food and water until you get a better sense of what you’ll need to keep fuelled.

Even if you don’t feel thirsty, have a bottle of water or an energy drink in your bottle cage and take a sip every 20 minutes or so.

How to get ready for your first bike ride
How to get ready for your first bike ride

Tom Adams

Tom is a bike enthusiast! Originally a mountain biker, Tom enjoys going fast on two wheels, whether it's on the road or on the gravel, mountain bike or commuting! Tom has been riding bikes for almost 18 years and loves nothing more than getting out on the roads or trails and testing out the newest and most innovative things on the Chain Reaction website!

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