The pandemic sure got many people concerned about their health more than ever. Aside from making more conscious food and nutrition choices, many are incorporating back exercise in their lives that, in a way, slowed down since lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed. Also, in an attempt to divert from the mental torment, frustration, and boredom caused by the enforced isolation, it was natural for many to engage in non-contact sports and home workouts.
One physical activity that has gained significant traction in 2020, according to Statista, is cycling. We saw the cycling community grow to 44 million from only around 39 million people in the U.S. biked in the past five years. To note, the statistic includes only those who rode on paved surfaces. If that does not sound like such an enticing number, enough for you to join the trend, we don’t know what would.
And so, in support of kindling your interest in cycling, here is a list of things you need to prepare. From protective gear to getting in touch with a cycling community, we got you covered:
If you are riding with a cycling group, who knows the best cycling routes in town better, expect long trips. And because you need to paddle non-stop and avoid any injury, you want to set your saddle at the most comfortable height. The best would be at a level where, when your foot is at the bottom of a pedal stroke, your leg isn’t fully stretched, and it leaves your knee slightly folded. You also want your saddle at a height that allows your arms to maintain a 45-degree angle when grabbing your bicycle’s handlebars.
What to Wear
Helmet and Elbow Pads
Regardless of whether you’re cruising the highway with humongous vehicles or on an unpaved natural track, there will always be safety risks. And so, you want to protect the parts of your body that are the most prone to cycling injury, including your elbows, knees, and head. Never head out until you have your helmet, elbow, and knee pads on.
Shirt and Shorts
Your phone’s weather app is still no match to sudden weather changes. One minute the sun is in its full glory, but later it can be drizzling. That is why investing in clothing specifically made for cycling will eventually pay off for its water-resistant, sweat-wicking, and UV-protective fabric. For extra foggy days or evening rides, clothes with reflective strips should be the go-to pieces. Shorts fitted with padding could also give you extra comfort when riding.
For extra sunny days, you can don a pair of arm covers and sweatbands for your arms and head. If your hands sweat easily, you can wear a pair of cycling gloves to give you a better grip on the handlebars.
Never discount the shock-absorbing benefits of a pair of cycling compression socks. While you can don a pair that you usually slip into your dress shoes, which works just as well in absorbing sweat, a pair that has joint-protecting properties would still be the wiser option. Remember that cycling as a workout primarily targets your ankles, and the more you need to exert force in them when you pass by rough or steep upward terrain.
Do not disregard discomfort in your ankle during a trip, especially if it gets swollen right after. Better have it checked at an orthopedic clinic or a podiatry clinic. Ignoring this pain could be a precedent for worse symptoms that will disable you from cycling in the long run.
Join a Ride Group
You can express your interest in joining a cycling group in your locality through their social media accounts. If not, you can approach a friend who is already part of one and ask if you can join one of their scheduled trips. Show up more in their subsequent trips and, of course, show that you are learning, if not already skilled with, group riding etiquette. They would be just as willing to impart practical and safe riding tips with you.
What Else to Bring
Food and Drink
Your group lead would suggest you take a brief break in the middle of a course, so you want to make wise use of this short time. In a pouch that is attachable to your bicycle’s crossbar, pack trail mix, protein bars, and candy to help you stay energized for the rest of the ride. Make sure to also bring a water bottle that snugly fits in your bicycle’s down tube holder.
You never know whether your wheels would fail during the course, and you wouldn’t want to inconvenience your riding group. Best learn how to use a patch kit and a mini-pump and bring it to your trips. That way, you can independently troubleshoot your ride, just in case.
This pandemic also reminds us that it’s never too late to get back on our fitness goals. More often than not, the feeling of not being adequately equipped to engage in a specific sport keeps us from even getting started.