Guide for beginner cyclists

Chris Willemse Cycles cyclist

If you’ve been thinking about getting into cycling, then this is for you. Cycling is one of those sports you can start at any stage of your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your teens or your forties and beyond, you can get on a bike at any point. The thing is, you can’t just hop on a bicycle and enter the Cape Town Cycle Tour. You need to ease into cycling.

So, here’s a quick beginner’s guide to cycling.  

Buy a bicycle

This one’s fairly obvious. Your newly-found cycling hobby isn’t going to take off unless you have a bicycle. It’s important that you do buy your bicycle from people who have the experience and expertise to ensure you’re making the right choice. They’ll be able to offer advice and guide you toward an electric bicycle, road bike or mountain bike, depending on your needs. There are scores of types of bicycles and mountain bikes for sale in South Africa. At first, it can be a bit overwhelming and cycling can seem like a whole new world. Those who have been immersed in that world for some time seem like they’re speaking a new, foreign language. But until you know your “aero” from your “zone”, it’s important that you take advice from the pros at a bicycle shop.

They will make sure you buy the correct bicycle for sale for your needs, know which questions to ask you and know what the answers are to your questions. And you’ll have many of those. You don’t need to purchase the most expensive bike out there, but you do have to make sure you have the right one for the kind of cycling you want to do. 

Start slow

Don’t exert yourself at first. If you’ve cycled before (even if it was only when you were a child), it shouldn’t be that difficult. But if you’re only learning how to cycle now, you need to go short distances at first. If you know how to stay on a bike but haven’t gotten on one in years, go around the block instead of taking on long distances and heading out on off-road cycles. Don’t set out on a day-long cycle tour with your experienced friends until you’re sure you have the stamina to keep up.

The first step to successful bike riding is to ensure you’re comfortable on your bicycle. And that comes down to your seated position. Find your optimum saddle height by placing your foot on the pedal and ensuring your leg is completely straight. If your knee is in a bent position, you need to slowly increase the height of your saddle. Getting your saddle height right will enable you to ride longer and harder. Which bring us to...

Set goals

If you’re serious about getting into cycling, you’ll be facing a lot more than flat surfaces and slight slopes. So, you need to get used to inclines, rocky surfaces and steep downhills. Take small steps and set easy goals. Start off by cycling up a small hill. That way you get to practise going up as well as going down. Don’t rush into taking on mountains before you’re used to the molehills.

An excellent starting point is to join a cycling club. Your local cycling shop probably has information about a club near to you. If some of the other members are also beginners, you’ll have a source of assistance from the get-go. They’ll be able to advise you about the best road bicycle helmets and point you in the direction of where to buy the best bicycle clothing online. Your fellow club members will also encourage you to enter your first race and will be with you for every kilometre along the way. They’ll also be able to offer advice on the different types of cycling apparel that you’ll need, including cycling shoes and other biking accessories. Your club mates will have advice on the best cycling nutrition to get you through your next race.

Learn some basic repairs

You’re not going to last long as a cyclist if you don't know how to do some basic bicycle repairs. Think repairing a puncture and knowing how to reattach the chain. Other fixes to your bicycle parts you’ll likely need to know include adjusting your seat and handlebars. Be sure to keep a handy toolkit with you at all times so that you’ll be ready to repair your bicycle at a moment's notice.

It all sounds pretty foreign now, but soon tubeless bicycle tyres, glueless patch kits and tyre seal strips will be second nature. You’ll be able to repair bikes with ease.

Make sure you have the right gear

If you’re planning on riding around your neighbourhood, you’ll need different gear than if you plan on taking on mountain trails. It’s a good idea to start out with at least a pair of padded cycling shorts and a waterproof jacket. Don’t worry about buying a full wardrobe of bicycle clothing just yet. If you prefer to stay home when you’re not cycling, you’ll find plenty of bicycle accessories online to browse. From bicycle tyres, bike helmets to bicycle racks for sale, that too can quickly become overwhelming. So, speak to someone who knows what they’re talking about and make sure you’re not purchasing the wrong equipment for what you want to do.

Cycling is a great sport to get into, no matter how old or fit you are. At the end of the day, getting into cycling isn’t that difficult. In fact, it’s like riding a bike. If you're not sure which type of bike you should get, read our handy guide on the different types of bicycles available. We at Chris Willemse Cycles are well known for stocking the widest range of cycling goods in South Africa.