June 11, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
Many people have taken up cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them because public transit was not available or not safe, others for leisure. Bike stores and repair shops have seen unprecedented demand for bikes, accessories and advice. Canadian Cycling put together some great advice to new cyclists, or old ones who haven’t been riding in a while!
If you have a friend or family who you are introducing to cycling you’ll like these tips. Remember, they may not be confident riders, or in great physical shape. Be patient and have fun!
Encourage confidence and good habits
There has been a massive influx of riders on the streets and trails this year. With no end to social distancing in sight, outdoor activities seem to be the go-to way to spend time this summer. You may have a family member, roommate or friend who has finally decided that “that biking thing you do” has some merit as a time-sink, but how do you get them confidently onto the road? Here are some tips on getting your new cyclist prepared for their first rides. Remember, if you don’t live with someone social distancing rules still apply. You can verbally dictate most of these suggestions to them while maintaining two meters distance. Check out the recommendations for riding together in your province, and, if you’re allowed to ride together, be sure to maintain two meters between each other.
1. Get the right clothing
Riding in comfortable cycling specific clothing can be the difference between a miserable ride and an enjoyable one. Most importantly you’ll want to help your friend find a pair of padded bib shorts that are comfortable and fit nicely.
2. Proper nutrition is essential
Whether you are cycling to get in shape, for a specific event or just for fun, proper nutrition is essential to enjoying riding. Remind your friend to bring lots of water (more than they think they will need). Almost every cyclists has bonked at some point, but you can help your cyclist avoid it by encouraging them to bring snacks. The most important part of fuelling is remembering to eat something every 45 minutes to an hour.
3. Teach them the mechanics of the bike
Checking tire pressure, lubing the chain make sure the brakes work are all important parts of getting on the bike, especially if your friend has pulled an older ride out of storage. Explain how gearing works (if they aren’t familiar) and make sure their saddle is centred and adjusted to the proper height.
If you can, teach your new cyclist how to fix a flat and how to put a dropped chain back on.
4. Do a bit of stretching
Stretching can benefit cyclists of all levels. Its important for avoiding injury but will also keep you comfortably on the bike, especially when you are just starting or after a long day in the saddle. It’s common to get a tight back, shoulders or neck after a few hours of riding, but pulling over to do a few mid-ride stretches can help release tension.
5. Pick a good route
Chat with them about their fitness and experience level to come up with a reasonable route that will be challenging but not too hard. Think about which roads to avoid based on traffic and how busy bike paths tend to be at the time that they’ll be biking. While some of us love a good climb, for their first few rides focus on flatter, scenic roads so your new cyclist can get used to the bike. After a few rides introduce them to some local hills and be extra encouraging once they reach the top.
6. Be reasonable with pace
Don’t set unrealistic expectations for a new cyclist. Let them set the pace and if you can see they’re pushing too hard suggest dialling it back to conserve energy.
7. Encourage them to keep it up
One of the most important parts of helping a new cyclist is supporting their efforts. Seeing others do huge rides on Strava can feel disheartening for a new cyclist. Make an active effort to encourage them and cheer them on. Check in to see if they have questions or if they want any advice on routes.