10 Cycling mistakes most beginners make

15th September 2015

Everyone makes mistakes when they first start cycling, which is why we’ve teamed up with the experts at the fastest growing social network for cyclists, The Cycling Bug, to help you avoid the worst of them.

  1. Setting unrealistic goals.  When cycling for the first time it’s easy to set goals that may not be as realistic as first thought. Jumping on the saddle and expecting to easily cycle up hills can be an ambitious thought. It’s important to ease your body into training otherwise you could be sofa bound for a few days, or worse, risk cycling injuries. Following a cycling training plan for a specific distance is the best way to see improvements in your cycling without burning yourself out too early on.
  2. Not understanding your bike.  Bikes come in all shapes and sizes, so you need to know what you’re dealing with before you speed off on your first ride. Understanding your bike is a key part to getting started. Learning the complete anatomy of the bike and knowing what’s what can save you various trips to the repair shop and some serious cash in the long run.
  3. Getting the wrong gear.  With so much cycling gear on offer it can be overwhelming walking into the cycling shop seeing wall to wall lycra. We always recommend getting somepadded cycling shorts, these will save you a lot of discomfort. They may not be the most flattering bit of apparel but you’ll thank us after your first ride. And to help you through the wetter months (which, let’s be honest, is most of them in the UK) check out our ultimate wet weather survival kit.
  4. Buying the most expensive gear.  Buying the most expensive cycling gear is a common beginner’s mistake. High cost doesn’t always equate to high quality. As a beginner we recommend you get appropriate kit for your level until you learn what works for you. There are some great beginner bikes on a budget out there or alternatively if you are looking for something you can improve on and enter sportives then here’s a list of the best full carbon bikes that won’t break the bank.
  5. Neglecting the rest of your body.  Working with your abilities and improving over time is a must when it comes to cycling. The strain on your muscles and ligaments can increase the risk of injury and therefore it’s recommended you mix up your training with full body exercises. Engaging your core and upper body will improve your posture and in time create a more comfortable cycling position. Check the 5 signs your core strength is weak, if you recognise any of them in you, then try out the30 day core challenge. Alternatively you can follow the 30daysquatchallenge, 30dayarmchallenge or 30daythighchallenge.
  6. Not fitting your bike properly.  Unfortunately the whole “one size fits all” does not apply to bikes. Making sure your bike fits perfectly to your body position can prevent 3 of the most common cycling injuries; saddle sores being one of them. This video guide will show you how to fit your bike correctly, or you can take it into a shop to double check.
  7. Forgetting to fuel your ride.  Eating performance boosting foods is vital if you want to get the most out of your long ride and really push yourself to the limits. It’s easy to forget to prepare your body so always consume slow energy releasing foods around 2 hours before. These 5 x 10 minute meals will make sure you spend less time in the kitchen and more time on the saddle.
  8. Not realising how useful your gears can be.  It can be easy to start pedalling without realising the full potential of your gears. Using your gears properly up hill and down will reserve energy stores and can make the difference between an easy or hard ride. These tips will show you how to get the most from your gears. It’s also worth keeping your chaindirt free and well-oiled to make for easy gear changing. There’s nothing worse than standing on the side of the road fixing a loose chain.
  9. Breaking the rules of the road.  The rules of the road are just as important for cyclists as they are for motorists. A cycling helmet can only ever make you so safe and it’s good to have an understanding of the highway code. Hand signals, regular bike checks and visible jackets are all ways to make sure you have as safe a ride as possible. If you’re still thinking you may not be up to scratch and you could be breaking a few rules on the road then check out the complete guide to cycling safety.
  10. Progress.  Tracking your progress is a great way to see how far you have come on with your training. Using the 5 best cycling apps can allow you to understand more about your progression and build up confidence in your riding. From this you will then be able to set realistic future goals, such as the 100km training guide or even just signing up to a sportive in your area.

For support, training plans, and to make some new cycling mates join The Cycling Bug, the fastest growing social network for cyclists.