Having covered set-up, clothing, shoes and pedals last week, the next things to consider are position, safety and equipment.
POSITION ON THE BIKE
Sitting either too high or too low will impact on your comfort. The easiest way to adjust your saddle to the correct height is to sit on it and put your foot on the pedal at the bottom of your stroke. If you are sitting correctly there should be a natural bend in the leg.
When the seat is too high there won’t be enough of a bend and you can end up locking out your knees, which puts pressure on the joints as well as inhibiting your bike handling skills.
Sitting too low, meanwhile, will cause too much of a bend, which can be detrimental to the joints as well. Sitting too low will also fatigue your legs quicker.
The next thing to do is to test you’ve got the correct frame. Put your elbow on the nose of the saddle and stretch your arm towards the handlebars. As a general rule, if your fingertips almost touch the bars the frame will be a good fit for you.
In terms of handlebar height, I would advise starting out a bit higher rather than too low, which can place a strain on the back. The crucial thing is not to copy anyone else. Position on a bike is an individual matter and should be what is most comfortable for you.
Wear a helmet. A lot of people don’t for vanity reasons, claiming they like to feel the wind through their hair. I was around in the pro riding days when cyclists didn’t wear helmets, but I always wear one now. These days they are so light and comfortable you don’t even know you’re wearing it.
Many newcomers to cycling have mishaps and it’s often the slow crashes that do the most damage. I wouldn’t be without one.
Don’t leave home without a pump and a spare inner tube. Learn how to take your wheels off and change a tyre.
JOIN A CYCLING CLUB
Once you have your bike, helmet and clothing, I would recommend checking out your local cycling club. The idea may seem daunting at first, but what you will get from a club is advice and encouragement from experienced cyclists. Visit www.braveheartfund.co.uk to find one near you.
Next week: sports psychologist Misha Botting on becoming a more confident cyclist.
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