Start your cycling journey this World Bicycle Day.
People like to say that when you haven’t done a certain activity for a while, starting it again is “like riding a bike.” But what if that activity is riding a bike? If it’s been years since you put foot to pedal, or if you’ve never tried riding a bike before and you’re wondering how to start cycling for fitness, we’ve got you covered.
June 3 is World Bicycle Day, so it’s a perfect time to go bike shopping (or dig your old one out of the garage and take it for a tune-up).
In this quick how-to start cycling guide, we’ll cover:
- Tips for buying a new bike
- Must-have safety equipment
- How to find bike trails & paths
- What to bring on a bike ride & how to prepare
- Ways to maintain your bike
Keep reading to learn how to start cycling safely and have fun!
Tips for buying a new bike
Getting the right bike is an important first step when you’re learning how to start cycling. If you visit a bike shop, the staff can help guide you through the decision, but here are some of the important questions to ask:
- Will you typically ride on roads, flat gravel paths, or trails that might have rocks — or a mix? This will help you decide on what type of bike to buy.
- What budget are you comfortable with? There’s a wide range of prices, but you can get a good-quality bike for under $1,000.
- Are there any specific features you want? Are you interested in something outside of the typical upright bike configuration, like a recumbent bicycle, tandem bicycle, or handcycle?
Make sure to test-ride bikes to evaluate them for comfort before you buy. Bike shop employees can also help you customize the fit for your body.
Must-have safety equipment
While you’re at the shop, pick up a few important accessories to make sure you’re riding safely. These include:
- A durable, well-fitting helmet
- Bike lights/reflective gear for riding on roads or in low light
- A bell to let people know you’re behind them
- A bike pump, spare tube, and patch kit
- Bicycling gloves to protect your hands
How to find bike trails & paths
If you’re new to biking, you might not know all the best local spots yet. But finding dedicated bike trails or paths is safer than riding on the road for those just taking up cycling as a hobby, and they often boast beautiful scenery too.
One great option can be to locate a casual bike riding group nearby or ask friends about their favorite spots, so you can turn your rides into a social activity.
Otherwise, check out the TrailLink website to search for bike trails all around your state for free! It includes details like the mileage, trail surface (e.g. dirt or asphalt), where to park, and reviews from other riders.
What to bring on a bike ride & how to prepare
Before you pedal away from the parking lot or your driveway, make sure you’re well-hydrated and have eaten something with carbs at least an hour before riding. The glucose will help you maintain good energy during your ride.
Apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses, and put on some bug spray if insects like mosquitoes and black flies are common in your area. Wear comfortable, breathable clothing, but avoid loose pants that could get tangled in your bike chain. Bring along a water bottle, your phone, money and ID, and a snack if you plan on riding for a while.
Ways to maintain your bike
If you treat your bike right, it will return the favor for many years to come. Keep your bike clean, dry, and out of the elements. Make sure your tires are always well-inflated and don’t have areas of serious wear. Apply bicycle lubricant to the chain to keep it in good working condition. Here are some more details on DIY bike maintenance. It’s also a good idea to take your bike to a shop every year or two for a professional tune-up.
The benefits of cycling include improved heart health, stronger leg and core muscles, decreased risk of chronic disease, and stress relief, among others. It’s a great exercise option for seniors since it’s low-impact and easy on the joints.
If you’re looking for more ways to stay active, check out these other spring workout ideas for seniors!