You’ve just got your first road bike and you’re itching to take it for a spin! But how and where do you start?
If you’re ready to start clocking up the miles on your new bike but you are a bit unsure of where to start or who to turn to for answers to all those questions you have? This is the article for you!
We’ll go through everything you need to consider, including:
- Choosing where to ride
- What to wear
- What to take with you
- Lots more essential need to know information to make the most of your time in the saddle.
Where to ride
You’ve got the bike so you’re already over the first hurdle. You’re going to need to start thinking about where you want to ride. Opening your door, heading out and hitting the road is a very easy way to get started but we want to make sure you’re going to make the most of your ride.
Being a new road rider can be quite daunting so planning your route before you head out is a really good idea so that you have aim for your ride. You might already have a good idea of where you want to go, however if you are a bit unsure then you can choose a local landmark that you would like to reach on your bike. This can be anything, a certain road, a shop or, a favourite amongst cyclists, a café! Once you have reached your landmark you can turn back and head home or go a little further depending on how you’re feeling!
On your first ride and if you are quite healthy and have a pretty decent level of fitness, an hour long or 20km first ride is quite achievable for you. However, this will be affected by your local surroundings also. Planning a route with lots of hills can take a lot of energy out of you and you won’t be able to go as far due to exhaustion.
Another factor you need to remember is you will need to make it home on your bike, so don’t try to push yourself too far on your first ride because you don’t want your legs to give up on you!
We’ll assume that you don’t have a cycle computer at this stage, so it’s important that you know your route in your head or can follow directions on a device, such as your phone, clipped onto your bike. You can also use apps like Strava to plan your route. Strava Premium, which has a free trial, lets you plan routes and can even give you suggested routes based on how far you want to ride. This is a really great way to get out on the road if you are unsure of where you want to go.
Getting ready for your first ride
You’ve planned your route and you’ve got your bike, but there are a few little extras you’ll want to consider.
We always advise wearing a helmet as anything can happen out on the road and it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. You should also make sure that your helmet fits your head correctly so that you are properly protected.
You’ll want to wear clothing that you’ll be comfortable in, will keep you warm and dry if it’s winter or cool and airy if it’s summer. As you’re just starting out this can be a t-shirt and shorts but for extra comfort you’ll want to invest in some padded shorts or tights. These can really make a difference to your rides as you start using your bike more and wanting to go further.
A waterproof or windproof jacket is useful if the weather makes an unexpected turn and can be that extra layer of warmth in cold weather.
Further into your cycling journey you may want to get some cycling specific clothing which is made out of technical fabric to keep you cool or warm and is designed with strategically placed pockets for carrying those little extras.
You don’t need to buy cycling shoes just yet and you can go out on your first ride in just trainers or shoes you feel comfortable in.
Once you have more experience and you feel confident, you can start looking at shoes which require cleats however it is well worth practicing clipping and unclipping before heading out on them for the first time to make sure that you can unclip when you need to.
Riding a bike can be hungry and thirsty work, so consider taking a small snack and a drink. These can be stored in a small rucksack or if you have a water bottle cage you can store your water there. If you’ve got a jersey or a jacket with a large pocket on the back you can store snacks and any other extras bits here.
We’ll imagine your bike is perfectly set up but problems can happen at any time, and there are few things worse than waiting for someone to pick you up in the cold. It’s better to carry some basic tools and not have to use them than not have them when you need them most.
Essentials for getting out of trouble include:
- A spare inner tube
- A mini pump
- Tyre levers to fix a flat tyre
- A multitool for tightening any loose bolts.
Fitting your bike with front and rear lights is also a good idea, especially if you’re planning your ride in the winter as it can get dark pretty quick. They also make you more visible whilst out on the road.
It is worth mentioning other road users. It can be quite daunting being a beginner cyclist and sharing the road with cars. Some drivers are very courteous to cyclists and others are not, but don’t let this put you off! Treating your bike as if you were driving a car is a good way to feel safe on the road and make sure that you are adhering to the highway code whilst out.
If there is an emergency whilst you are out, you’ll want to have a phone at hand. It is always worth letting others know your intended route as well. There’s safety in numbers too, and if you’re embarking on your first road ride you could consider joining a local club which is a great way to get into the sport as well as receive lots of friendly advice.