The Ultimate Guide To Cycling
Starting The Cycle Journey
Are you excited about that bicycle of yours that you have recently bought but do not know how to ride it properly? Are you worried about what to wear, how to react in different weather conditions and what are the things that you should equip yourself with while riding a bicycle? If the answer is yes, then it is the time to throw your worries apart because we are taking you to an exciting bicycle trip that will help to eradicate all your cycling apprehensions.
Cycling, which is also known as ‘biking’ or ‘bicycling’ refers to using the bicycles for transportation, exercise, sports or recreation. The person riding the cycle is known as a ‘cyclist’, ‘bicyclist’ or ‘biker’. Also, the type of the cycle is not limited just to a ‘bicycle’. We have other types too, some of which are mentioned below:-
- Quadra cycles
Having defined the term, let us now check some positives and negatives of riding a bicycle. This will help us decide accordingly.
Why ‘Yes’ To Cycling?
The riding of bicycles can help the cyclist with several things. Those advantages are mentioned below:
- It is a very efficient and effective mode of transport and is widely recognized for the same.
- It is very optimum for travelling from short to medium distances.
- It helps the rider with an easy parking option.
- It helps in sharpening the rider’s skills through increased maneuverability.
- It can be easily used in the roads, rural traits and the bike paths.
- It contributes negligibly to air and noise pollution.
- It offers the cyclist with a decreased fossil fuel combustion level.
- It does not contribute to traffic congestion.
- It helps the cyclist to maintain a fit and healthy body because of the physical exercise involved in it.
Why ‘No’ To Cycling?
There are certain areas of concern related to bicycles. Some of the important ones are listed below:
- It is required by the cyclist to maintain proper balance in order to keep an upright position.
- Due to the lack of a roof or covering, an open vehicle like a bicycle is more vulnerable to crashes.
- The travelling time through the bicycles is too long as compared to the other modes of transportation.
- There is no protection from the extreme weather conditions.
- Transportation of passengers is just not possible.
- As cycling involves a continuous physical operation by the cyclist in order for it move further, a basic fitness level is a must for this.
Having mentioned the definition, pros and cons of a bicycle, let us not get excited or disappointed. In fact let us keep calm and learn some tips for beginners and benefits of cycling so as to make you a pro in it.
Tips For A Novice
The Posture Matters
When cycling for the first time on the road, a cyclist may feel that his body is being pushed forward, unnaturally. The reason for this is the position of your torso which is at a low level. Also, because of this you may feel as if you can get thrown off the bike, anytime. What to do here? The mantra is to STAY RELAXED and practice more and more in the areas of less traffic. With this continuous practice, your brain will get conditioned and will start directing you about the safe and comfortable riding positions.
There are basically three positions in which you can ride a cycle. These are:
- Neutral position
- Forward bending position
- Standing position
Let us learn about each of these in details below:
This position is the most common of all the other riding positions. You need to place your hands on the hoods top. Hoods are the covering on the levers of the brakes. It provides the cyclist with an access to the shifters and the brakes. This type also allows the rider to ride along comfortably for long hours, without exerting much pressure on the hands.
Caution note: Make sure that your arms and torso are at an angle of 90 degrees. Also, ensure to keep your chest forward and your shoulders broad, in order to gain the best out of your ride.
Forward bending position
In this type, your centre of gravity is required to be lowered and the hands are required to be placed on the drops. ‘Drops’ refer to the C-shaped portion of the handlebar. This position is especially important while descending steep inclines. Also, this portion demands a more forward bent torso and a specifically angled wrist so as to reach the levers of the brake. This provides more leverage while riding. This also leads to a backward shift of your body weight which gives more traction.
This position demands a perfect bicycle saddle. This is most commonly used for climbing and it helps in resting your soft tissues and your muscles. In order to get this position, you need to initiate with a neutral position. Because of the upward rise, there will be a forward shift in your body weight which can cause a lurching in your bike. What to do then? The same rule of maintaining calm works here as well. Try to relax your arms so as to transit smoothly without any swerving. Ensure to keep the center of gravity in front of the saddle.
Hence, maintaining the right posture will make you be a better cyclist. But, is this enough? No. A cyclist has to face a lot of road enemies and hurdles. But we are not afraid. We will learn how to face each, in details.
Road – Troubles? Ways To Penetrate Through
We all know that the roads that we travel from are full of unwanted materials that can be harmful for a cyclist. Mentioned below are some of the common ones:-
Debris and potholes
A cyclist needs to be Argus eyed to see and move away from the stones, pebbles, gravels, broken glasses and the likes, while riding. Just in case, it is impossible for you to steer clear of a hurdle, follow the thumb rule i.e. TO RELAX. Relax your legs and arms while standing on the pedals. Forget about the brakes, as the momentum will do a fair amount of its work, itself.
Every bicycle rider, while crossing the railway tracks, must take care to maintain an angle of 90 degrees as a ground rule. This perpendicularity between the cyclist and the grooves of the track reduces the chances of the cyclist to fall down. In case of rutted or raised tracks, do not use the brakes and just try to coast over.
It is advisable and safe to ride very slow in the rains. The speed of the bike should be much lower than the normal speed and also the cyclist should take a long time to reach this slow pace. Another important thing to remember here is to wear bright colour clothes and to use maximum lights to be properly visible.
Metal or wet leaves
A cyclist must keep a far off vision for wet leaves or any metal pieces on his path and hence should try to slow down the speed, beforehand. Even after doing so, if at all your bicycle tires get in contact with those unwanted obstacles, always remember, not to use brakes or pedals. Just try to coast. The hitting of the brakes or accelerating at that moment can cause the wheels to come out.
Sharing the path with other cyclists
A cyclist can come across many other cyclists, riding on the same road. These cyclists may or may not have an idea of riding with others. If that happens, just slow down your pace and ring the bell of your cycle. Also, a warning note of ‘on your left’ can be called upon. All this will ensure the safety of all the riders.
Sharing the path with other vehicles
Keep a keen eye on all the motor vehicles, entering or exiting the driveways or any other turns. In case you see a car slowing down but does not give any signal, you ought to assume that it will turn. Whatever be the case, it is suggested to be patient and to wait before proceeding hastily.
So, after crossing all these small hurdles, let us learn some tricks to defeat those tricky road curves.
Turn The Turns
As soon as we talk about turns, a cyclist immediately assumes the turning of the handlebars. Although, there is nothing wrong to think so but remember that this works only at low speeds. At high or medium speeds, the bike is guided by the cyclist by shifting the body weight and leaning the whole body towards the direction of the curve. So, as we can see that cycling through the turns is not a cake walk, there are certain points to remember:
- The first and the foremost step, is to relax. This allows an easy motion for your bikes.
- Look ahead, around and through the bend.
- Force your vision to see as far as possible because by doing so, your body and your bike will automatically veer in the right direction.
- Make sure to place your feet in a way so that the outside pedal is down and the inside pedal is upwards. This leads in creating an angle, naturally and the gravitational pull comes into action. You can lose your speed and traction in case you try to overcome this.
- As fast corners are more dangerous, try to stabilize yourself by using the drops to place your hands on and lowering your centre of gravity.
- Always remember to lower down the speed of your cycle to the minimum, while entering a curve as the gravitational forces create natural acceleration.
- To avoid: Avoid using brakes on turns and curves. This leads to a change in the distribution of the body weight.
After exploring all the turns, let us now try our hands on climbing with the help of our bicycles.
Apart from the skills and strategy, climbing up also requires a lot of strength in the cyclist. Also, there are some important points to consider before taking off. Have a look below:-
Before you see the road rising, relax and slow down. Take a quick sip from that bottle, loosen your clothes a bit and you are all set to take off.
Shift the gear down
An easy gear is very important so you can pedal easily without pushing hard. Try to keep the bike chains, out of tension, to get an easy ride.
Try to conserve energy
Breathe deep and breathe steady. It is very important to keep the energy reserved to take that long challenging ride. Concentrate more on pulling up the pedals because pushing demands more energy. Also, following the proper guidelines of bike chains and its lubrication will help a great deal.
Exercise your Brains
Riding up is not just a physical exercise but also a mental game. Make the distractions, your tools of experimentation. Try to focus on a sign board or a tree and you will feel the distance shrinking. Keep smiling, sing and try to get out of the climbing mind zone.
Do not stay in the same position. Alternate between sitting and standing and move around in order to utilize whole of your muscle strength. If you find difficulty in spinning, try to push against the hoods. This will provide you that extra leverage while pedaling.
Going through all the aforementioned tips will definitely help you ride more confidently. They will help you steer away from all the possible hurdles but what if your bike itself becomes a trouble for you. What if it refuses to move? Here is what you are supposed to do. Check out.
Flat Tyre-What To Do?
The most common problem with the cyclists is the flat tire problem. But with a planned step by step approach, you can repair it in no time. Let us see, how?
The pre-requisites for repairing
- A new tube
- A hand pump, CO2 cartridge or a floor pump
- 2 levers
- An inflator
+ The removal of the inner tube
The inner tube is removed in three steps:
- The quick release is opened and the wheel is removed from the cycle. The valve system is compressed in order to remove maximum amount of air.
- A tire lever is used to pop one bead and the other end is inserted into the spoke. Now the second lever is used to create a slack.
- The second lever is now made to slide around that rim so that the tube comes out entirely from the tire.
+ Finding the puncture
Follow these two steps, to find the puncture:
- The root cause for the flat tire is found to help us get rid of more punctures. The tube is inflated and the leak is located.
- The debris is removed using gloves or a neat cloth.
Installing the new tube
The installation can be done easily, if you follow the below mentioned steps:
- The valve hole is aligned with the tire’s label and the new tube is inflated to hold a proper shape. The valve is inserted in the rim which helps in the tucking of the tube in the tire.
- The bead is pushed hard onto the rim ensuring that the tube does not come in between the tire and the rim.
- The last part is placed properly over the rim’s edge.
- The tube is re inflated to 20 psi (approx). The rest of the desired inflation is done, once the tire is properly placed on the rim.
We know that by now, you must be feeling like a dexterous cyclist. But along with these skills, there are some general rules to be followed by the rider. Scroll below to see.
Presented to you, are the basic four rules that you ought to be adhering to, for a safe bicycle ride:
- Try to be predictable
Do you like a vehicle which stops suddenly without any warning or do you feel safe around a vehicle that is swerving? No, right? So, when you are the rider or the driver, do not let others feel unsafe. Try to be predictable.
- Abide by the law
Abide by the laws of traffic signals while riding a bicycle. Also, use the signals of your bike, as and when required.
- Keep towards the right
It is suggested to stay out while cycling on the road. This help you make more visible for the other vehicles and makes it easier for a car to pass you.
- Avoid sidewalks
Sidewalks are basically meant for walking. Cycling on such paths can invite accidents, as a lot of people walks on it. However, if you have the city permission to ride on the sidewalks, ensure not more than 6 to 8 mph of speed.
Do you now feel that you are entirely ready to take your cycle for a road trip? Wait, for we have some treasure left for you. These last minute gearing tips will definitely help you stay clear of any injuries, accidents and knee pain during cycling.
Cycling Gear For A Ready You
Some essential cycling gears are:
- Jersey: It is designed especially for the cyclists. Being front short and back long keep away the midsection from binding. There are pockets on the rear sides.
- Shorts: They are made up of a smooth material and has a snug fit. A padded liner called chamois is also provided that protects the rider from chafing and soreness.
- Gloves: The gloves for cycling are made up of a very thick material that helps in relieving the nerve pressure of the palms and the wrists, in case of any mishap.
- Helmet: It is advisable to wear one, in order to protect your head. There are advanced versions of the same that can withstand serious traumas.
- Head Gear: It acts as a sweat absorbent and a protective cap that fits well under the helmet. They can be of different types, for e.g. visor caps or the caps with built-in earflaps.
- Shoes: While choosing the shoes for cycling, choose the ones with the hardest possible sole. These shoes are specially designed and have cleats that fit with the pedals and help in maximizing the power output.
- Shoe covers: Staying away from thick socks is the rule of the game. Theses shoe covers provide the best alternative and gently slide beneath to keep your feet safe from cold or wind. These are of two types-one that covers the toes only and another one called full booties that has cleats on it.
- Knee, arm and leg warmers: These generally are small pieces of clothe that fits on to specific part and helps in the clothe extension.
Apart from wearing the proper and correct gear for that cycling expedition of yours, there are some more important things to be carried that will help you. Enlisted below:
- A saddle bag: These are those specially designed bags called the bicycle bags, specially meant for cyclists. Just stuff your things inside and head on.
- One or two tire levers: As you have already learnt how to fix a punctured tire, it is important to take the levers for the same.
- A tube: Do not forget to carry a tightly encased tube that is again required to fix the technical issues of the cycle.
- A patch kit: Carry a patch kit that generally contains an emery cloth, glue and a patch.
- Inflator and CO2: These are required for maintaining the air pressure of the tyres.
- A multi tool: Gear up for any possible accident or mishaps and hence carry a multi tool.
- A hand pump: This will help provide the backup duty.
A guide like this can act as your best friend for the cycling times and can help you play a safe cyclist. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your cycling bags, carry on the safety gears, stick to the rules and you are well on your way.