Cycling Tips For The Beginner

Are you in a daily struggle to start that exercise plan you've been putting off for months? You have all the excuses to procrastinate - running doesn't feel good, you don't have a swimming pool to do laps, yoga isn't your thing - but in forgoing regular exercise, you're not doing your health any favors. Why not take up cycling? Cycling is a non-impact, fun physical activity that is appropriate for nearly everyone. Here's what you need to know to get off the couch and get on your bike.

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Time to hit the road or bike trails

Many towns and cities offer biking trails and bike lanes, making it easy for you to hit the road. You may find hidden paths with stunning views or, if riding in town, realize how much quicker you are moving compared to the traffic.

Check with your local recreation department or bicycle retailer to find out about the best biking opportunities nearest you. You can also visit www.TrailLink.com, a fantastic resource for bike riders nationwide. Powered by Rails to Trails, not only will you find detailed maps of bike trails that are close to your home, but you will also see pictures taken along the trails and read rider reviews.

Another good resource is www.Trails.com, a site that offers a variety of trails for biking as well as for a host of other outdoor activities such as, hiking, backcountry skiing, running and more.

Alicia Hubbard prefers bike trails as she rides with her daughters. "I personally have a trailer that I connect to my bike for my two daughters, and I always properly strap them in," she says of how she prepares for a day's ride with her girls. "I also provide them with water and a snack to have during our outing. Our experience has always been fun, and, more importantly, safe for all of us!"

Other websites of interest to riders are www.AdventureCycling.org and www.AmericanTrails.org.

Safety tips For riding In traffic

Street cycling is a popular option for riders who don't have access to off road trails. There are, however, many precautions to take before venturing on to a road where you'll be sharing space with cars and trucks.

Here are some tips to remember when riding in traffic:

  1. Ride with traffic, not against it.
  2. Obey the same traffic laws as you would if you were in a car. Stop at red lights. Cross intersections with traffic.
  3. Use hand signals when making a turn so motorists know what you're about to do. Using hand signals will lessen your chance for injury.
  4. If pursued by a persistent dog that will not go away and getting off of the bicycle is necessary, dismount with the bike between you and the dog. It is also always a good idea to ride with pepper spray located in an easily accessible place.

Hazlegrove also suggests that riders ride in groups or with someone, adding "This makes a rider more visible. There's safety in numbers." Planning your route in advance is also a good idea. Check out the DMV website for a quick review of the road laws.

Bike riding is a fantastic sport that's great for families, friends and athletes. Once you're gliding down the trails with the wind on your face, your cares forgotten and your cycling buddies beside you, you will not only feel healthier, you'll also be glad you got off the couch. After that, the television won't be nearly as appealing as it once was.

More on cycling fitness

Get psyched to cycle and get fit
The spin on spinning
Randonneuring: Ultra endurance cycling

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