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How to start road cycling for a complete beginner.

morrissey321morrissey321 Posts: 2
edited May 2019 in Road beginners
Hi everyone.
I am a complete novice when it comes to cycling. I am 29 years old and I haven’t ridden a bike in years.
I have always been very overweight, but I have lost over 4 stone in the past months and feel confident enough to try road cycling. It’s always fascinated me but I was too self conscious to try.
I am currently 14 stone and would like to continue to lose weight and get into road cycling.
I reached out to an acquaintance of mine who is big into road cycling. He has got back to me and could not of been more helpful! He asked for my height and weight and he has acquired me a bike to ‘loan.’ He wants me to go with him to try it out.
I couldn’t have wished for a more helpful response.
I am nervous however. I’ve never ridden a road bike and it’s been 10 years since a I rode ANY bike.
What would your advice be? Surely everyone has to start somewhere.
What tips or advice could you give a absolute beginner?
Thanks very much!

Posts

  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    My advice would be to go out on your own a few times first, rather than with someone else - especially someone who is already 'experienced'. You don't want someone dictating your pace for you, although his advice on the ride may or may not be useful. If you haven't ridden for 10 years (and assuming you don't do any other 'regular' exercise) then 20-30min rides on flattish terrain on your own - and at your own pace - would be my suggestion as a first step.
  • bigmitch41bigmitch41 Posts: 685
    Well done on the weight loss!

    My advice would be to start small and work your rides up gradually, nice and easy 30 minute rides and build up from there. You could use an app like Strava to record your rides, this will show your improvements over time. always have a drink and some sort of food (flapjack etc) to fuel yourself along the ride.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
    Paracyclist
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  • david7mdavid7m Posts: 636
    Make sure youre comfortable and focus on enjoyment! Padded shorts/ trousers and decent gloves are a must, obviously a helmet.
    Speaking of helmets - watch out for idiots on the road and avoid busy areas if possible.
  • lesfirthlesfirth Posts: 1,075
    I had a lay off for several decades. When I started again I was not nervous I was plain censored scared. I had to put my bike in my car and drive to quiet roads at first. It takes a while but you get accustomed to being extremely vulnerable. Keep your eyes open and be assertive in traffic.
  • First, well done on your weight management, that's a huge achievement already. Keep up the good work Morrissey!

    Second, well done on getting into cycling and making that first move to go out there on a road bike!

    Don't be afraid or be put off if you struggle in different ways (i.e. sore bum, blisters on your fingers from holding the handlebar too firm, achy legs, "perceived" lack of fitness, and breathlessness). They are completely normal reaction to cycling for the first time in over 10 years. Completely normal.

    Given that, I'd suggest taking it really easy on your first ride. As others said 20-30min is more than plenty (if not, even 15min ride is plenty for the first occasion). And then slowly build up your confidence.

    On the contrary to one's advice, I'd suggest you go out with your helpful friend as a companion and tell him to "go very easy" on you and you only want to pootle around for 20-30min. You'll know whether he is that sort of "adjustable" person who can adapt his level to match your needs or if he's a "show-off" and be very unhelpful. So you need to make that decision.

    My advice 1: Is there a forest, park or seafront which has a cycle route that are "off-traffic" (i.e. not on road with cars) nearby where you live? I would go on a cycle path that's traffic-free so that you can focus on your cycling ability and enjoy the scenery (with or without a companion).

    My advice 2: Sometimes, depending on where you are, local cycle clubs have a drop-in session / no-string-attached session for non-club members to go out together in a group on a very simple ride (often includes tea shop / pub stops!). That way, you can meet fellow cyclists (racers or non-racers) in your locality and they can help you along the way. Have a Google reach on local cycle club, Sustrans (they look after the national cycle routes) and Cycling UK.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
  • joey54321joey54321 Posts: 1,297
    Imposter wrote:
    My advice would be to go out on your own a few times first, rather than with someone else - especially someone who is already 'experienced'. You don't want someone dictating your pace for you, although his advice on the ride may or may not be useful. If you haven't ridden for 10 years (and assuming you don't do any other 'regular' exercise) then 20-30min rides on flattish terrain on your own - and at your own pace - would be my suggestion as a first step.

    I'd disagree with this, someone helpful and considerate with a short route in mind coud be good for confidence, this other person is clearly trying to help and so I don't think they'd be "dictating the pace".

    - Start small with a short loop
    - Enjoy it, perhaps take a picnic or similar, turn it into more than just 'exercise'
    - Find a nice route away from cars/traffic as much as possible
    - spend 10 minutes (more if you feel you need it) practice going round a quiet area (park and ride carparks in the evening can be good for this) to build confidence before throwing traffic and junctions etc...
  • keef66keef66 Posts: 13,286
    What they all said. Find somewhere quiet and with little traffic. Just get used to riding a bike again. Starting, stopping, using the gears, looking ahead etc. Take your time and don't try to overdo it.

    Once you feel comfortable on the bike and able to control it confidently you can start to venture a bit farther / longer. Don't get hung up on speed or distance, just try to spend a bit more time on the bike each time. As your fitness improves and weight falls you can add in some hills. Don't be discouraged if you find them really hard at first; most people do, but it's worth sticking at it.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,003
    joey54321 wrote:
    Imposter wrote:
    My advice would be to go out on your own a few times first, rather than with someone else - especially someone who is already 'experienced'. You don't want someone dictating your pace for you, although his advice on the ride may or may not be useful. If you haven't ridden for 10 years (and assuming you don't do any other 'regular' exercise) then 20-30min rides on flattish terrain on your own - and at your own pace - would be my suggestion as a first step.

    I'd disagree with this, someone helpful and considerate with a short route in mind coud be good for confidence, this other person is clearly trying to help and so I don't think they'd be "dictating the pace".

    'Helpful and considerate' is fine. But just because someone is already a cyclist, doesn't necessarily make their advice valid (milemuncher, for example), which is the only point I was making...
  • gethincerigethinceri Posts: 1,073
    Flat pedals.
  • navrig2navrig2 Posts: 1,556
    All good advice.

    It's time in the saddle which will make the difference so start "small" and build it up. As fitness improves you will want to go further or a bit faster.

    For many people group riding is of great benefit. For some solo riding is preferred. It's a personal thing.

    Assuming you last bike was a MTB then be prepared for a road bike to be a bit flighty with the narrow tyres. It doesn't take long to get used to it so don't be put off.

    Personally, I'd go with your very helpful mate. He sounds like he will understand the need to not be too fast initially and some chat will help the miles pass more easily.

    Well done on the weight loss. Phenomenal result.
  • lakesludditelakesluddite Posts: 1,319
    Make sure you can understand why it is that you are nervous. Is it the other road users, or your own lack of bike handling skills? Or both? You can then concentrate on the one that makes you the most nervous, the rest will come with time.

    Just remember, if you aren't very confident on handling the bike, stick to quiet areas so that you can practice just riding around, feeling how the brakes work and what their limitations are, getting a good feel of changing gears and which gear you need to be in at a certain time/incline, taking tight corners, leaning the bike over - things like that. Ask your mates advise for all the above.
    If you are nervous about traffic, then of course the only way to practice is getting out there in traffic. Learn to be assertive and take as much room as you need - don't feel like you need to be riding in the gutter (about 1m from the edge of the carriageway is a good rule of thumb). Try and anticipate what people in cars might do, rather than just expecting them to do the right thing. Developing a sixth sense will take time!

    Enjoy the journey - it IS worth it, but just be prepared to say goodbye to disposable income!
  • mike cbmike cb Posts: 7
    Good question. For an absolute beginner, I'd say:

    Helmet

    Saddle bag

    Bib shorts

    Jersey (while you can get away with regular cotton shirts, your nipples will thank you for the spandex, and the rear pockets are clutch)

    Biking shoes (even with toe clips the stiff sole helps a lot and you'll be ready for clipless in a month or two)

    Base layer (something from Gore or UA or similar)

    Sunglasses with interchangeable lenses

    Sweat-proof sunblock (at least 50)

    Waterbottles & Cages (ask your shop to throw those in for free if you buy a bike from them)

    Flat kit

    Tubes

    Rear flasher light

    Lock (if you plan on stopping for a cappuccino like a proper roadie)

    For intermediate, add:

    Clipless pedals

    Bike computer (beginners shouldn't worry about numbers and should just get out and ride unless the shop throws one in along with installation which can be a censored )

    Headlight (beginners shouldn't ride at night until comfortable with the roads and the bike)

    Tools (intermediates should begin learning how to service their own bike)

    Workstand

    Road snacks (unless you're making your own)

    Arm warmers

    Outer shell / jacket

    Compression socks (I love these for post-ride)
  • robert88robert88 Posts: 2,706
    Don't do up your shoes too tight..

    It's likely your feet will swell slightly and if your shoes are too tight it'll restrict the circulation in your feet.

    When you first start with clipless be prepared to fall off. Why do I have to clip in when the pedals are clipless?

    Don't swallow flies, spit them out.
  • ted-on-tourted-on-tour Posts: 225
    BIG Tums up on the weight loss brother...

    I'm not sure I'm experienced enough to offer advice as such, however...here's some of the things I've learned over the years.

    Buy good quality padded shorts. Bibs are always good for a laugh the first time...other than that, decent basic gear is all you'll need to kick off with. Aldi cycling stuff I've always found adequate (cheap too! :D ) Until you really get the bug and start looking at wonderful exotica.

    Glasses and gloves are good.

    Helmet.

    Learn the basics of repair and maintenance.

    It's fun...

    Don't get caught up on numbers straight away...although it is hard not too.

    Don't worry about looking like a censored .

    You must tell everyone you've started cycling.

    "It never gets easier...you just go faster" :D

    Tell the significant other, NOTHING. (Other than how great it is and how much fun you're having)
    Pain is a momentary lapse of character.
  • AlejandrosdogAlejandrosdog Posts: 2,007
    Imposter wrote:
    joey54321 wrote:
    Imposter wrote:
    My advice would be to go out on your own a few times first, rather than with someone else - especially someone who is already 'experienced'. You don't want someone dictating your pace for you, although his advice on the ride may or may not be useful. If you haven't ridden for 10 years (and assuming you don't do any other 'regular' exercise) then 20-30min rides on flattish terrain on your own - and at your own pace - would be my suggestion as a first step.

    I'd disagree with this, someone helpful and considerate with a short route in mind coud be good for confidence, this other person is clearly trying to help and so I don't think they'd be "dictating the pace".

    'Helpful and considerate' is fine. But just because someone is already a cyclist, doesn't necessarily make their advice valid (milemuncher, for example), which is the only point I was making...

    Is the buttmuncher really a cyclist though????
  • AlejandrosdogAlejandrosdog Posts: 2,007
    Error
  • Hi Morrissey. You may be a novice in the bike riding department. But you're clearly a pro in the weight loss department. If you have willpower like that I imagine you must succeed at most things eventually. You've certainly inspired me. Huge ( if that's the right word !! ) well done.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 5,997
    When I started in my early 30s having not really ridden since my teens (I'd had motorised 2 wheelers though) I just wore football shorts, T shirt and trainers.

    The important thing is go out and get used to the bike - I've been riding about 18 years now and still don't have stuff like a cafe lock - that basics are a pump and a puncture repair kit or a phone to call someone to rescue you !

    Early on you'll probably find you feel totally spent after short rides - I ended up with a 40 mile route which I did with one stop half way - at the time it felt like a ride of epic proportions - this was after a month or so of riding. I would agree with Imposter too about going out on your own rather than with your mate - so long as you have road sense (ie you drive a car) there isn't much they can do for you and you will feel like you are holding them back.
    AFC Mercia women - sign for us
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