Whether you are eager for a new hobby, a stronger exercise routine, or a more convenient way to get around town, cycling is a top option to consider. Aside from the fact that it is both physically and mentally rewarding, cycling can be genuinely enjoyed by almost everyone, not minding your age or your physical ability.
Cycling also referred to as bicycling or biking, is more or less the use of a bicycle for transport, recreation, or sport. Aside from the fact that cycling is highly efficient, it remains one of the more affordable forms of sports-related hobbies and no matter how you cycle; you will be exercising while you save money.
From learning to ride your bicycle to finding the right equipment you need, this sport has a dedicated store in almost all cities in the USA. If you are looking to start cycling as a hobby in the United States, below is a step-by-step guide to help you build up your confidence, fitness, and knowledge about cycling.
Is Cycling a Sport or Hobby?
Cycling can be done as a sport and also as a hobby. A sport is defined as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. There are loads of cycling competitions in the United States and around the world.
Every four years, cyclists compete at the Olympics and there are currently four disciplines in Olympic cycling: track cycling, road cycling, mountain biking, and BMX. BMX was the latest to be added to the Olympic program, in 2008.
So also, cycling is a hobby because it is an activity that people do regularly in their leisure time for pleasure because of the health benefits and easy access to different locations, especially locations you can’t access with cars.
Is Cycling an Expensive Hobby?
Yes, cycling can be a very expensive hobby owing to the exorbitant cost of high-quality bikes and the related gear and equipment needed for cycling. However, this does not in any way mean that you should not consider cycling as a hobby. Have in mind that there are viable and sustainable ways to take up cycling as a hobby without investing your life savings.
Can You Make Money Cycling as a Hobby?
Yes! There are viable ways to make money when cycling as a hobby. In recent times, more or more people are beginning to pick up cycling as a hobby. Cycling can also be a profession, especially for those who serve as bicycle messengers and even bicycle rickshaw/pedicab riders. There is also a niche for almost anyone—from BMX to road racing and even cyclocross and cycle polo which have the potential to be exploited for financial benefit.
How to Start Cycling as a Hobby
Find the Right Bike
This is the first and most important step to take when looking to take up cycling as a hobby.
- First, take your time to consider how you intend to use the bike and your budget.
- Locate a local bike shop with a good reputation and remember to ask lots of questions. If the staff doesn’t listen, treat you respectfully, or answer all your questions, you can always find another bike shop.
- Carry out some research before setting out. Don’t forget that bike components and frame materials vary by performance, weight, and durability. Owing to that, you must get educated in advance.
- Purchase the highest-quality bike you can afford. Ensure that it features the best parts and frame materials. It will pay you back in terms of performance and comfort.
- Don’t forget to test ride. You will always find various brands with identical components or frame materials in similar price ranges; therefore, it will most often boil down to fit and feel.
- Finally, pick the bike that best aligns with your interests rather than the one that’s the best deal. Shop employees are expected to be experienced enough to figure out which frame size and seat height are suitable.
While there is only a handful of main bike types out there, have it in mind each of them comes with its own unique set of features. Therefore, when selecting the perfect bicycle for yourself, it is very crucial that you first understand the different types of bicycles available and the features they carry.
1. Road Bike
2. Mountain Bike
3. Hybrid Bike
4. Touring Bike
5. Electric Bike
Get the Proper Fit
After you must have purchased a suitable bicycle, the next step will be to get a professional bike fitting. Most often, you will need an expert to measure your proportions and flexibility and make adjustments to guarantee that you have the most comfortable and enjoyable ride possible depending on the kind of riding you want to do.
Sometimes, the fitter may change some components of your bicycle to suit your needs, such as the stem, handlebar, and seat post.
Consider Your Saddle
Most often, people looking to take up cycling as a hobby tend to make changes to their saddle. While this may seem illogical, it is always recommended you avoid cushy saddles with lots of padding. Note that your weight will sink through a soft model and press against the hard bottom. To enjoy your ride, it is recommended that you opt for a firmer, narrower model common to sportier road bikes that will support your sit bones and muscles.
Understand the Etiquette of Cycling
When you take up cycling as a hobby, have in mind that you will need regular nutritional upkeep to keep the pedals moving. Experts suggest you consume natural, simple, high-carbohydrate foods. If necessary, gels, goos, and chews are good since they contain electrolytes.
Also, consider getting nutritional bars; but be sure to check the ingredients and serving sizes. Avoid hard-to-digest, high-fat, and high-protein bars. Howbeit, consider the following guidelines.
- If you intend to ride for an hour or less, water and a light snack would be nice. Depending on your size, you will burn 30 to 50 grams of carbs per hour of cycling and should take in seven to 10 grams of carbs every 15 minutes after the first 45 minutes of riding.
- Sports drinks and water supplements are known to provide better hydration than water. Note that the beverages’ sodium and sugars mimic the body’s natural fluid balance; therefore, they’re more easily absorbed by the digestive system and increase endurance, energy, and post-workout recovery. Ensure to go with one that has electrolytes and some carbs.
- Drink every 10 to 20 minutes, aiming for frequency over quantity. For longer rides, it is smart to drink plenty of fluids well before setting out so you start fully hydrated.
Take a Class
You should consider visiting local recreation and sports centers to find a bicycling class near you. When you start cycling, consider joining a beginner’s class to learn the ropes. In these classes, you can learn everything from the rules of the road to the proper gears to use in different settings.
Also note that you will be taught things you never thought of—like don’t bike over drain grates or you could get stuck, fall, and damage your tires. Just a few classes will help you be safer and more comfortable with your new hobby.
When picking up cycling as a hobby, it is imperative to develop your fitness. To help you achieve that, here are steps to build the legs and lungs of a cyclist.
- Start easy and do not try too much at first. Begin with a low mileage goal of around 5 and 8 miles per ride, but remember to add on a little each week.
- Ensure to ride several days a week especially since aside from helping to build fitness, it also helps you adjust well to the bike.
- Select your routes wisely. At least in the first couple of weeks, avoid big hills and overly stressful adventures.
- Don’t forget that recovery is a very vital aspect of riding. Rest is paramount to becoming a strong cyclist because the body needs time to rebuild after rides.
- Also, note there will be good days and bad days. If you’re struggling, cut the ride short.
- Join or create a community. You can do this by finding a riding partner who is also new to cycling. You can also consider a bike shop or club ride.
- Remember to keep track. Whether you prefer a calendar, an app, or a designated journal, it is advisable you genuinely track your progress.
Learn How to Ride
Knowing how to ride a bicycle is entirely different from the knowledge you need to turn it into a hobby. Note that with traffic, shifting, road hazards, and fatigue, riding can be very challenging at first. Nonetheless, here are a few instructions to guide you
- Etiquette: Learn to communicate with vehicles and fellow riders by using hand signals.
- Shifting and cadence: Also note that you will ride most efficiently at 70 to 90 pedal revolutions per minute (rpm). To avoid getting tired easily, shift into easier gear any time you intend to slow down.
- Climbing: When riding up hills, ensure to stay seated, keeping your cadence high and your arms relaxed. Stand intermittently on long climbs, or for occasional bursts.
- Descending: Remember to ride with hands in the drops to get closer to the brakes and optimize traction and steering. Don’t forget to look far down the road and always brake before a corner, never in it. Apply both brakes evenly to slow down or stop.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Indeed, maintaining your bike costs money, but it saves you money in the long run. Note that with just a few steps, you can keep your rides smooth and safe, and lengthen your bike’s life span.
- Always remember to check your bike before every ride. This includes tire pressure, brakes, chain, and quick releases on wheels to validate that everything is in good shape and place. Inflate tires to the level indicated on the sidewall—often 90 to 100 psi.
- Lube up. Don’t forget to oil the chain every 100 miles, more often in wet weather.
- Put together a maintenance schedule, and get the bike tuned up or overhauled at least once a year.
- Learn how to fix a flat
Obtain Other Required Accessories
Other necessary bicycle parts and accessories to obtain include;
- Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is very crucial.
- Air Pump and/or CO2 Inflator: Also take your time to learn how to use them properly before a flat tire happens.
- Saddlebag: This is more or less a small kit that holds items like a spare tube, tire levers, multitool, tire boot, CO2 canisters and inflator, cash, and a cell phone.
- Bike Shorts: Note that these contain sweat and make riding comfortable, even after hours on the bike. A section of padding, called a chamois, is attached to the seat of the garment to help limit chafing.
- Jersey: These materials are made of lightweight fast-drying materials that stay cool; this shirt includes back pockets to hold snacks, keys, and other valuables.
- Helmet: In case of an accident, the parts that tend to get hurt the most are the head and the knees. Have in mind that damage to the head could lead to permanent disability.
- Bike Shoes and Pedals: Obtain a clipless system because it will help to increase power and efficiency and smoothens out pedal strokes by connecting cleats on your shoes to the pedals.
- Gloves: They help to avoid blisters and pressure pain from the handlebar and protect your hands in case of a fall.
- Glasses: For bugs, dust, debris, and sun. You may need an eye protection
- Bell: If you intend on riding into off-road bike paths, get an early-warning system for passing.
- Computer: If you want to go further, and decide to take part in maybe, a 40-mile charity ride. This will help track your progress as you build fitness for the event.
Riding a bike is an experience that is exciting and mind-blowing. Getting started can be quite challenging, so it is necessary to understand the gear you need, the various types of cycling you can choose, and the rules to comply with for your safety.