So you want to start biking? This quite possibly might be one of the best decisions you make as an adult. Biking has a whole slew of benefits – especially as we age.
First off, it’s a great, low-cost mode of transportation which can do wonders for your budget – if you live in the city OR better yet – if you live a reasonable distance away from town. I started biking to my various jobs back in 2011 – and love it as a way to get healthy and get around, plus when people see you roll into work – they have many questions about your progress and success.
Second, it’s much easier on the joints. Running tends to really crush some serious calories, but biking is gentler on your joints – which you happen to need for the remainder of your life. The smooth motion of the pedals can help you burn calories while saving your aging body.
Third, biking is a great way to ease into working out. If you are new to the fitness world, biking for a month or two can really help condition your body for more difficult activities. Back in 2011, I biked all Spring and Summer. In the fall, I started running. I eventually ran for about 3 months (not straight, of course) and conditioned my body to run over 7 miles without stopping. It was insane (and I was in great shape). It was all because I started biking prior that year.
So here are some of the basic things I have learned while biking.
- You don’t need the best bike. You need a bike that is correct for your body size. Your legs should almost fully extend down. Sometimes you can alter the seat but it’s best to Google your needs, or better yet – go talk to someone in a bike store.
- You don’t need to complete the marathon on your first ride. The key is to start small and progress to longer or harder rides. You didn’t put all the weight on during one meal – it’ll take some time to work it off too.
- There is value in a good quality seat. To put it delicately, you can benefit greatly from a forgiving seat. Look for one with a void in the middle – especially for males…. Check this Amazon item out if you’re still confused.
- There is value in good road tires. Unless you are planning to do some serious biking in Colorado this weekend or extremely wet climates, think about trading out the stock tires for ones you find on amazon that are better conditioned for light offroading — but primarily for road or pavement. I bought this one recently and can vouch for its ease of use and quality. The reason why you want road tires is because it takes less effort to push these tires over the heavy-tread ones. At first, that sounds beneficial, but over time, you’ll want something more responsive on inclines that will make the most out of your efforts. I biked too long on heavy mountain bike tires – this upgrade helps tremendously, including calories burn increase — simply: you go faster which is high motivation.
- Disc breaks or traditional breaks are a matter of preference. One is higher in price – but they both work well for our purposes. I personally like Disc Breaks – because I’m a nerd and got a deal on a bike.
- Trinkets and gadgets are helpful – but not required. Remember, the goal is to start biking. Those things will be available in the future when you get your bearings. First things first.
- Pick an easy “circle” style biking trip at first that takes around 15 or 20 minutes. Your goal is to make it once around (or there and back again). Then your goal the next time will be to make it around a little faster (30 seconds). Then, once you hit that goal, aim to go a little faster (another 30 seconds). Once you shave a few minutes off (it might take some time – don’t feel discouraged), then go twice around at an easy rate. Now set another “faster goal.” This method works great and always keeps your goals clear and simple – plus – guaranteed calories burned.
- A tip for a trip that is “there and back again” — cross the road or change up the return trip as much as possible. This will, in effect, make it a “round trip” style. Just remember what changes you make and repeat.
Lastly, wear a helmet. I don’t doubt your abilities – I doubt everyone else’s. I don’t care what you look like – you will look a lot worse if you get ejected from your bike and damage your head or spine. This can happen in a park or on the road too. Bike to bike collisions are more common than we think. It’s a terrible reality – so any protection is better than none.
I love biking. I take time daily to bike – even if it’s on a bike trainer (during foul weather). Find what works for you and enjoy the journey. You’ll be happy you started. I promise.