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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to get started in bicycling, find motivation, and feel safe while doing it

How to get started in bicycling, find motivation, and feel safe while doing it
By:  Michael Lander

Some things may be as easy as riding a bicycle, but learning
how to ride often takes time, a helping hand, and a set of
training wheels before a child is able to master the
necessary skills in order to ride.

At one time or another we’ve all probably heard something being described as being “as easy as riding a bicycle.”

Riding a bike may be one of the easiest things that any of us could ever do, but it never comes about without first mastering the skills of balancing and steering the bike and getting it to move in the direction in which we want it to go.

Once we do finally learn how to ride a bike, we never seem to forget how to do it and it can be the beginning of a lifetime of fun with friends and family or a quiet and peaceful activity we do alone.  It can also be a great workout and way to stay healthy and it can provide one of the best ways to take in the scenery and it is an inexpensive way to travel in and around town and beyond.

As easy and enjoyable as riding a bike might be, we can sometimes become distracted by other interests and demands in our lives, we can lose the motivation to ride, or we can become apprehensive about riding because of any perceived dangers, especially when riding around on our Memphis city streets.

None of these things, however, need to stop any of us from riding unless we let them. 

For those who are thinking about returning to cycling, and rekindling all that they may have once loved about it, the biggest roadblocks may come from not knowing what bike to get, how to get started back into cycling, or how to avoid and reduce the risk of injuries as a result of an accident.

There are a multitude of bicycles on the market to choose
from including low-riding recumbent trikes, which some
cyclists prefer for their comfort, but because they are
low to the ground, they are best suited for paved bike

These roadblocks should not ever be enough to deter anyone from riding and there are things that can be done that could get you out riding and enjoying it with the thousands of others who regularly ride in and around

The first step for anyone who wants to start back into riding is to make sure that you get the right bike for whatever type of riding it is that you want to do. 

There are many different types of bikes to choose from that are available today and some can be used for multiple purposes.  Here is a
detailed list of bikes that you will find and the local area bike shops where you can buy one.

If riding through fields and woods on dirt or gravel trails appeals to you, then it is a mountain bike that you’ll want to get.  If you’d rather ride on paved roads or trails, then you have a choice of many different bikes like road bikes or hybrids and more.  If you’re looking for a bike to
commute or to run errands, then you might want to consider a touring or a utility bike.

There are other bikes that are made for racing and/or for triathlons, but these are not usually the ones that most people get when they are just getting into cycling.  They are often very expensive and are typically a bike that a more seasoned and experienced cyclist will get after they decide to take their cycling to a more competitive level.

Bicycles can serve different purposes for different people
with numerous options to meet the specific needs of

Whatever type of bike that you wish to get, be sure to shop around and take several bikes out for a spin before you purchase one.

To learn more about how to choose the right bike, visit the
Memphis Cyclist website or click on this link to an article for additional suggestions and advice.

After picking out the right bike for you, it is important that the bike that you get is the right size and properly fitted and adjusted for your comfort.  A bike that is not comfortable for you will only ensure that your bike-riding experience will be short-lived.

Additional comfort can come from wearing clothing specifically made for cycling with
cycling shorts that can provide some additional padding and cushioning and can make for a more comfortable ride, especially for longer distances.

After addressing the issue of comfort, the next step is knowing how to actually get started in riding. 

Any time that you can spend
reading, watching videos, and learning from those who have some experience in cycling can be an enormous help to you.  After that, the best way to find things out is to learn by experience, yourself.

Once you do start riding, it is best if you take it slowly and not expect too much all at once.  This should help to reduce pain and discomfort from sore muscles and it will allow your body to better adjust to riding.

Avid cyclists typically participate in long-distance or
competitive cycling events and will invest substantially
more than the average cyclist for lighter weight,
more aerodynamic, and more expensive bikes.

Unless you are already in shape, it takes time to acclimate yourself to riding, but it will come in time if you stick with it.

You can incrementally increase your time, distance, and speed at a pace that you are comfortable with.  Just don’t expect quick results overnight. 

Working out in a gym can help you to further develop the muscles that you need for riding and
spinning or stationary bikes are good if you can’t get outside, but if you have a choice, riding outside is almost always best. 

Click here for an article on how to improve your performance in cycling, both on and off of your bike.

Being outdoors is one of the best parts of cycling and doing all of your riding inside doesn’t prepare you as well for cycling events and competitions that almost always take place outside.  Even though it may help with strengthening your muscles, it doesn’t simulate all of the conditions that you will encounter out on the roads with having to ride around others and getting used to dealing with the various environmental, meteorological, and geographical factors.

If you want to do long-distance or competitive riding, you will need to ride and to train under the various conditions that you are likely to face in those circumstances.  This might mean having to ride in less-than-ideal conditions, acclimating yourself to extremely warm or cold temperatures as well.  The bottom line to be successful at this, you need to ride long, ride hard, and ride often.

Cyclists can turn to spinning and/or stationary bikes to
get into shape and strengthen muscles, but riding
outside can better prepare them for long distance
and competitive events.  For most people, being
outdoors is more enjoyable and fun and there is no
substitute for that.
Click here for an article on the keys to doing long distance cycling events.

Like so many other things in life, getting better at cycling requires staying motivated.  It can help if you set goals for yourself and to have friends and family who you can ride with and who can support and encourage you along the way.

Click here for an article on finding ability, a positive attitude, and a greater motivation for cycling.

Other than knowing how to get started with riding, it is always important to know and do what it takes to be safe.

Safety is a legitimate concern, as it should be, for anyone who rides on any of the Memphis area roads, but cyclists can take a lot of precautions that will help minimize some of the risks that come with doing that.

This includes always being aware of what is going on around you, following the rules of the road, wearing a bicycle helmet, being visible with bright and/or reflective clothing, having lights and reflectors on their bikes, and always being predictable.

Even though the laws may vary from state to state, cyclists are allowed to ride on all roadways, except for interstate highways, and Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas are among the
states that require motorists to give 3-feet minimum passing distances of cyclists.

Safety is something that cyclists should always think about
when they ride, especially when they have children riding
with them or when they have them in an attached child
trailer.  Areas with little or no vehicular traffic and bike
trails are often the best options in these circumstances.

Since not all vehicle operators know about the 3-foot law, and some may simply not adhere to the required minimum clearance between them and a cyclist, you will occasionally have some drivers who will come closer to you than they should.

If you don’t have a shoulder or bike lane to ride on, it may help to reduce this from occurring by riding slightly away from the edge of the road to force motorists to move further over and having a rear-view mirror on your helmet or bike can help you see them coming up on you.

Click here for more laws concerning cyclists in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

In spite of all the talk of bad drivers in and around Memphis, the number of serious accidents where police reports have been filed, involving cyclists and motorists in our area, is extremely low, in comparison to many other large metropolitan cities in the U.S.

To read an article about Memphis area drivers, click here.

Click on this link for information on accident data involving cyclists in the Memphis area, and what you should do when you encounter bad drivers.

Memphis and surrounding communities have an ever-increasing network of bike lanes and more of these are expected in the years ahead.  If cyclists still feel uncomfortable with riding on the city streets, they also have the option of riding on Memphis area bike trails, (most notably the Shelby Farms Greenline and the Wolf River Greenway), which are still being expanded and will connect to other trails in Memphis and in other nearby communities.

Cycling can be a family-fun activity that is often best
enjoyed on some of the Memphis area bike trails
and in some of our area parks like Shelby Farms.
With all that cyclists currently have, and will have in the future, they should have options available to them that should make them feel safer within their own comfort zone while riding.

For more safety tips and advice, you can go to the
Memphis Cyclist website or you can read more on this topic with an article on questions and answers on bicycle safety and what cyclists should think about when it comes to safety.

With just a little time and effort, and a little motivation, anyone who wants to get started back into riding should be able to do it and feel safe whether it is on the roads, the trails, or both.

1 comment:

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