Cycling can be an easy and fun way to help you reach your fitness goals. Before you hop on your bike, get up to speed on the cycling world from an outdoor cycle enthusiast and an spin class instructor. Here you’ll find our top tools for a successful first ride.
What to Expect?
You can see improvements in your cardiovascular and leg strength with consistent training because cycling works your quads, hamstrings, calves, core and can get your heart rate pumping.
o Indoor Cycling: The heart pumping music, theme nights (throwback 90’s music anyone?) and community atmosphere make indoor cycling class a little bit different from a conventional stationary bike. You’ll be motivated to do your best while still being able to go at your own pace.
o Outdoor Cycling: When it comes to outdoor cycling there are many options. It all depends on what you are looking for. I asked outdoor cycle enthusiast and Vega PR Specialist, Jaclyn Cummings for her top tips. She recommends a mobile app like Strava to track rides and build your route. Once you have your route, share it with your cycling group because, as Jaclyn says, “cycling is better with friends!”
Setting Up Your Bike
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, the foundation of any ride is proper bike set up. The three key areas are your seat height, seat distance (from the handlebars) and handlebar height. Jaclyn recommends taking a Cycling 101 course with your local bike shop to get you set up with the mechanics of the bike and make sure you have the right tools to fix any mechanical issues that are bound to happen on your ride. For indoor rides, make sure your instructor knows you’re new; they will help you find the right fit.
Before you hit the pavement, hit the books for a quick lesson in cycle speak.
o Saddle: Your seat. Changing your seat can make a world of difference. Ask a professional for the best option for your outdoor bike. Indoor riders, when out of the saddle you’ll want keep your hips directly over the seat.
o Resistance: How hard you need to push down and pull up to move the pedals. This can be adjusted using gears on your outdoor bike or tension knob on your indoor bike.
o Cadence: Your peddle rate or how many RPM (revolutions per minute). The higher the resistance, the harder your muscles will work to keep the same cadence.
o On your left/ right: A safety phrase to alert another bikers that you’re passing.
o Drafting:Riders rotating from the front of the group to the back in order to take a short rest to avoid the “aerodynamic drag.”
o Positions: Indoor cycling uses three main positions to simulate an outdoor ride; seated, standing and jumps. Your hands can be in first (at the base of the handlebar), second (at the base; on the outside of the handlebar) or third (at the top of the handlebar; used when standing).There are variations of each of those positions:
- Flat: Riding at a steady pace.
- Climb: Increase in the tension.
- Sprint: Increase in the speed.
- Jumps: From seated to standing and back again. Jumps are one of my favorite moves – just make sure you are lifting with your core engaged and using your legs, rather than pulling with your arms.
Fuel Your Ride
Proper nutrition can be difference maker in kicking your performance into high gear. The key for me is to stay hydrated before, during and after class. I always bring water and sip throughout my ride. However, sometimes water alone isn’t enough so to replenish the essential electrolytes my body needs to stay hydrated I use Vega Sport® Hydrator. One of my favorite ways to stay hydrated post-workout is with this Cucumber Melon Hydrating Cocktail.
What to Wear?
Pump the breaks on the padded shorts and cycling shoes until you know cycling is for you.
o Clothes: You are going to sweat—a lot—so you’ll want to consider moisture wicking clothes. You’ll want to opt for fitted clothes to avoid interfering with the bike mechanics. Shorts are great but I’d save the short shorts for the beach. Opt for longer, fitted shorts or capris for the most comfort.
o Shoes: Regular, hard soled, athletic shoes are just fine when you’re starting out.
o Kick your ride up a notch: Look for performance gear such as cycling shoes, padded shorts, jerseys and kits. Whether on the road or in the class, pack light but don’t forget your towel and water bottle.
Do you love indoor or outdoor cycling and have some advice for newbies? Let us know in the comments below!