How to Become a Cyclist in 5 Simple Steps

bicycle wheels on pavement with sunset
There's nothing quite like hitting the bike path on a beautiful day to lift your spirits!

by Steven Auger

Have you always preferred the stationary bike over the treadmill at the gym? Perhaps it's time to take your skills to the next level and learn how to become a cyclist! Like any exercise, bicycling is chock-full of healthy goodness.

Cycling is primarily an aerobic activity, meaning it gives your heart, blood vessels, and lungs a solid workout. Not only can cycling reduce your chances of developing a cardiovascular disease, it can lower stress and anxiety levels. Plus, there's nothing like hitting the bike path on a beautiful day to lift your spirits!

How to Become a Cyclist

Like any goal you set out to achieve, it pays to have a plan in place. Learning about cycling is no different. Here are five simple tips for getting started.

1. Choose a Bike

If you're debating whether to invest in a fancy road bike, start out by regularly using a stationary bike at the gym. This is a good way to get a feel for biking while building up your endurance.

When you feel ready to buy a bike, don't just choose any bike. Choose the right bike! That means making sure it's the correct size for your height and the right design for your riding style. And don't feel obligated to break the bank on this purchase; ask a salesperson at your local bike shop to show you some affordable options that are right for you.

2. Learn Basic Techniques

Practice, practice, practice! It's the only way to get comfortable riding. It's a good idea to focus on using your brakes and riding out of the saddle. Also practice shifting gears on a flat road so you can get a feel for the motion. Keep in mind that the gears are there to help you!

"You'll know you're in the wrong gear if you find you're spinning the cranks incredibly fast, but barely moving; or grinding your way up a hill and finding the resistance so great you're pedaling becomes slow," explainsCycling Weekly.

Take your time when getting used to the bike. Even as you slowly learn the nuances of cycling, you'll still be getting a good workout.

3. Ride in Style

If you plan to head outdoors to ride, remember to dress for success! A bike helmet is a must-have to protect your head. And don't forget to wear the right shoes. No matter what exercise you opt for, proper footwear is critical!

Feeling inspired and want to look the part? A slick jersey, cycling gloves, and padded bike shorts will enhance your comfort and give you the appearance of a seasoned road veteran.

4. Find Your Tribe

In other words, join a cycling club! As Cycling Weekly notes, your fellow cyclists can provide you with all the info you need to know — from answers to technical questions and solutions to mechanical issues to hand signals and riding etiquette. They can even show you how to fix a flat tire, so you'll be prepared to hit the trails on your own!

5. Fuel Up Along the Way

If you want to head out on long rides, you'll need to stay hydrated and make sure you have enough energy for the return trip. While it may seem unusual, that means eating and drinking while riding your bike.

"If you're riding for more than 90 minutes, take a snack (such as a cereal bar) and aim to eat something every hour," Cycling Weekly suggests. You can secure your water bottle to your bike's frame for easy access as you ride!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.