I would not go so far to say I’m an experienced cyclist; I too am new to the sport. If you’re looking for sagacious old veteran with years of experience, I’m not it. However, if you’ll settle knowledgeable fan who is au courant with cycling training culture and the sport itself, look no further, I’m your guy.
Now I’m going to assume by ‘beginner cyclist’ you mean you want to get into the sport itself and evolve from someone who just leisurely rides their bike to someone who puts in the miles atop of a road bike saddle. Assuming I’m right, I’m going advice you to the best of my ability. Here we go.
First things first, if you don’t have one already, you’ll need a road bike. Nothing too expensive. Either a steel or aluminum frame will do. Do not get carbon, it is way too expensive for a beginner. I personally believe carbon should only be used by pros or high level amateur racers looking to become a pro.
Rapha’s nice, but it doesn’t make you go faster. Wear comfortable and affordable cycling gear. Nothing too fancy. My rule would be don’t invested in designer cycling clothing, such as Rapha, until you’ve done a few hundred kilometer rides.
Learn how to use clipless pedals. It’s a valuable skill, which will vastly improve your pedal technique and overall make riding a lot easier. I know they are designed for mountain bikers, but I would start off with a pair of SPD’s and once you wear them out, then you can graduate to a 3-hole cleat design, which are specifically made for road bikers.
Eat well. But don’t diet. Rigorous training diets aren’t needed. If you’re trying to lose weight by cycling, the exercise is more important than what you eat. However the best way to lose weight without starving yourself is, eat a big breakfast, a medium lunch and a small dinner, with lots of small healthy snacks in- between. I try and limit what I eat late at night before I go to bed and fill myself up for the day with a large breakfast in the mornings. Try and hit all the food groups, yet eat what you enjoy. Just remember the golden rule; quality not quantity.
Now as to regards with training, start slow. Cycle to the best of your ability, and if that means only doing 7 mile rides, two or three times a week for a month, do that. The last thing you want to do is push yourself to the point you’re not enjoying yourself anymore. Set yourself goals, but don’t feel too disappointed if you don’t stick to them, life sometimes gets in the way. Ride safe, ride at your own pace, and slowly build the miles and I promise you, you will improve.
However, the best advice I can give for training and for any beginner cyclist is a quote stolen from the great Eddy Merckx:
“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”
Use caution on the roads this spring if you happen to live in Ontario, more specially my part of Ontario, or even just generally anywhere the municipal government uses a lot of sand on the roads.
I recently experienced my first crash of the season (hopefully my last). Whilst traveling on a slight downhill at quite some speed I made a sharp turn to my left, not paying attention to the large abundance of sand on the corner. Hitting the corner I skidded, lost control and before I knew it I was on the ground, sliding along the sand covered asphalt.
Fortunately, I came away with nothing more than bad road rash. The bike, however, was a tad more damaged. With the leavers bent and the back wheel busted, it means I’m approximately down three hundred dollars in my savings, savings that was going towards another bike. As frustrated as I may be, I do understand these things happen and really after a crash like that you just have to shrug it off, get your bike fixed and get back on the road.