Spring is coming soon! Those who have been caught in the polar vortex, like me, can't wait for a bit of warm air and sunshine to get outdoors. I am a moderate bicyclist, riding the local trails for an 25 or so miles. So for what it's worth, here are some things that are very important if you are considering cycling for the first time:
1. Get a good bike! Although the price might be scary, it will pay for itself over and over. Go to a bike shop and ask someone to help you. Tell them where you are thinking of riding--road, dirt, trails, long distance, short distance. This makes a difference in the type of bike you will need. I have a hybrid because sometimes I ride on the road and other times on trails.
2. If you have a bike, get a tune-up or take a class to do this yourself. It's amazing how different bikes are than when I was a kid! There are nuances to these newer bikes that need appropriate care.
3. Keep a tire pump handy. Make sure you have the proper pressure in your tires before you take off. This avoids early wear that can become expensive.
4. Keep a travel tool kit for bikes handy. If your bike breaks down several miles from home, walking home is no fun.
5. Wear the proper gear. Wear pants that are close fitting to the leg so your pants don't get caught in the gear or chain. Bike shorts with the padded seat reduces pain and long-term nerve damage. Knowing what the weather will be like, wear what you need to in layers. If you overheat, you can strip a layer off. A helmet is a gotta have. Concussions are no laughing matter.
6. Transport your bike with a good bike rack. That little folding doodad from the local discount store isn't good if you are going very far. I recommend Thule brand. If you are going to get a good bike, protect it with a good rack.
7. Know the trail etiquette and bike laws for the road.
They are posted at the entrances of the trails to help people avoid injury to themselves and others. Follow them. Just because someone else doesn't, doesn't mean its okay for you to ignore them. Know the road laws for bicycles in your area to avoid an accident or being pulled over by the police.
8. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses. This is a no-brainer anymore. I have lost a few friends to skin cancer. Having pits and chunks of your skin taken out by a surgeon and withstanding chemo is no picnic.
9. Work your way up in distance systematically. In the winter, riding on a bike trainer can help you be ready for the trails or take a spinning class. Stretch when you are done. You would be amazed at how tight muscles in your legs, rear, back and arms can get.
10. Enjoy! Cycling can be very enjoyable cardio and stress relief. Done properly, you can enjoy it for a very long time.