A 101 Cycling for Beginners

The gyms are closed. After 10 workouts in the living room you want to get outside again. A little healthier lifestyle wouldn't hurt either. The solution to these problems is to go cycling! Easier said than done, because how do you start with this?

Step 1: The bike

The biggest financial investment before you can get started is the race bike. Please don't be put off when you hear that your neighbor has one that costs between 3 and 4,000 euros. You really don't need such an expensive bike, especially as a novice cyclist. It would be ideal if you could borrow a bike first, but there are also plenty of suitable second-hand bikes and entry-level models for sale. The most important thing when buying a bike, is to find the right size, because a bike that is too big or too small can cause health problems in the long run. You can find good tables for this online, and if in doubt, ask for advice.


Step 2: The outfit

The most important thing is to wear a well-fitting bike helmet. We know it's totally uncool to wear one when crawling around town on your granny bike, but with cycling it's super important. Essential number two are gloves, wearing them prevents blisters and protects your hands. Number three is cycling shorts. Did you already know that these are worn without underpants? It has a chamois that sits a lot more comfortable, which is required especially on longer distances. It is important that the cycling shorts fit like a glove, because loose clothing will flap and that is very unpleasant and 'not aero' (dynamic). The same goes for the cycling shirt and, especially with chilly weather, the thermo shirt. As with other sportswear, there are different price ranges. It's up to you what you choose choose!


Step 3: Cycling Shoes

It is true that cyclists wear special cycling shoes that you clip on to your pedals. This way you can better transfer your power to the pedals and thus cycle harder. But, when you are just starting cycling, it might be nicer to get used to the light bike and the completely different position first, before you venture into this. In other words, it is an important part of your equipment, but only when you feel more comfortable on the bike. If you want to know more about click pedals, how to handle them, and why almost every cyclist rides with them, check out this blog.


Step 4: Accessories

You already have the most important items! But if you want to hit the road well prepared, there are a few more accessories that complete your gear. First of all, the water bottle and bottle cage. Even if you don't always notice it, when you're cycling you sweat quite a lot. That's why it's important to drink enough water. Most bikes have room for two bottle cages, so use these to carry water and/or a sports drink. Another important accessory are the glasses. They protect your eyes from the sun and from insects which also hit you harder the faster you go. It is wise to always take some food. This can be a banana or a sports bar. There are endless choices regarding this topic. 'Try' is the magic word here! In any case, it is important that it gives you extra energy, because you will need this as you burn a lot of calories. Finally, it's smart to bring a bicycle pump, an extra tire, and some tire levers. You may not be able to change your tire yourself right away, but it's wise to learn to do so quickly #strongindependent(wo)men!


Step 5: Just get started!

Now that you're prepared, it's time to get on your bike! When you just start, it's tempting to start cycling fast right away, but it's wiser to start slowly and gradually improve your fitness. This way you can get used to the effort and also protect your muscles from possible injuries! Before you start your first ride, create an approximate route that you want to cycle, so that you will not be faced with any surprises in terms of distances and times. This way you will get used to the idea of cycling.


Training schedule for beginners

Would you like to build up your fitness? Then it is wise to make a training schedule. For example, plan how many rides you want to do per week. Listen to your body, because if your muscles are sore, it means you are still recovering and should skip a day. Try to take each ride a little further than the previous one, so if you started with a 25km ride on the first day, ride 30km or 35km on the second day. Slowly but surely start building, and schedule regular rest days where you train your core or upper body, for example. Because even though it may seem like all the power has to come from the legs, a strong core improves your balance and allows you to step more powerfully into the pedals.


Building the training schedule further

When you get to the point where you can sustain a 70+ kilometer ride at a healthy pace, it may be time for a new challenge. In addition to being able to ride long or far, you can of course ride faster and faster. For example, you can try to ride a certain lap faster and faster or to sprint faster. Just like you do reps in the gym, you can also do intervals on the bike to improve and get stronger. For example by doing 5x twenty second sprints with short rests in between. Or by doing longer blocks of ten minutes of heavy effort with short breaks of four minutes in between. You can find a lot of tips and advice about this online or hire a trainer to guide you. If you are a competitive person, we recommend purchasing a bike computer with a speedometer and GPS. With this you can make your goals easier to measure. You can track your rides and upload the data via Strava, the best-known app/website for cyclists. Through this app you can see where you rode and what your speed was, and probably the most popular feature, you can check how fast you were in comparison to other cyclists.


Some more tips:

  • Don't forget to inflate your tires before you leave. Usually 10% of your body weight in bar, or if you weigh 65kg, about 6.5 bar.
  • Always bring water and something to eat. It's better to bring too much, than to find out what hunger pangs are (sooner or later that will happen anyway ;))
  • Learn how to change a tire yourself! It is not difficult, a typical case of practice makes perfect. The Youtube videos of Global Cycling News could help you with this, for example!
  • Don't forget to enjoy yourself! It's great to be able to train outdoors, and the Netherlands has a super good infrastructure compared to practically all other countries.


We especially wish you lots of fun with cycling! If you have any questions you can always send us an email or message! And if FIRST also helps you to cycle extra energetically, of course we would love to hear from you!

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