Road biking is amazing. And many new cyclists embrace this sport for the first time. Why? Because road biking is accessible, because at the beginning, a hybrid or commuter’s bike is more than perfect for this sport, and because many people consider it easier than mountain biking.
But many enthusiasts commit mistake after mistake after hopping on the saddle, simply because they believe that riding on a road is a piece of cake. If you’re considering approaching this sport for the first time, here are the top 9 road biking mistakes to avoid as a beginner.
1. Breaking Road Rules
I’ve got it! You learned how to ride a bike on asphalt, maybe on the lane in front of your garage, or on an alley in a park. And that’s awesome. But just because a road is made of the same material, it doesn’t mean that riding on a public road is the same thing as riding on a private driveway.
Public roads come with traffic rules, and the first thing to do as a road biker is to learn them. Read the traffic regulations in your area, learn about obligations and restrictions, and if possible, always use a designated lane when riding in the city.
Riding on a two-wheel vehicle doesn’t entitle you to ignore traffic lights or road signs, and that’s another thing to consider. You’ll have to respect both pedestrians and drivers, paying attention to not break any road rules.
If you do, get ready to pay a hefty fine and to assume all responsibilities for your mistakes.
2. Wearing Inappropriate Clothes
Road cycling isn’t commuting. And practicing this sport requires appropriate clothing. Cotton garments are never a good choice, even if they might seem so, because cotton retains moisture and it becomes cold if it rains.
Maybe you don’t have to invest in the best road cycling equipment on the market, but wearing neoprene equipment makes a difference. This material is specially designed to keep you dry and warm even when the weather isn’t the best.
Another thing to consider is the shoes. Wear sports shoes and preferably road cycling shoes for an improved experience.
3. Wrong Saddle Height
A saddle that is not properly adjusted has a negative influence on your performance and not only. In terms of performance, a saddle adjusted at an inappropriate height lowers your leg force, resulting in a weaker pedaling. This means more effort to make it to your destination which results in a lower overall performance.
But the wrong saddle height also has an impact on your health. Sitting too high or too low makes you adopt an awkward position, which translates into back pain, muscular pain, and other related health issues.
To determine the right saddle position for you, sit in the saddle and pedal. When the pedal reaches its lowest stroke your leg should be almost straight. You should also be able to touch the ground with your toes on both sides while sitting in the saddle.
It might take some trying and adjustment to find the right saddle height, but it’s well worth the effort.
4. Not Using The Gears
Road bikes have gears, and they are there for a reason. The problem is that many newbies are afraid to use them. And this limits the performance, especially when riding uphill, cutting off your average cycling speed.
Most bikes have an average of 20 gears, so there is plenty of choices. And if they are there, learn how to use them effectively. You should switch to easier gears when cycling uphill, and to harder gears when riding downhill or on flat stretches.
Learning how to use the gears and finding the best ones for you might take some time, but again, it’s well worth the effort.
5. Wearing Undies Under Cycling Shorts
If you’ve decided to look like a pro and wear cycling shorts, never, ever wear undies under them. That’s because cycling shorts are designed specifically to adhere to your most intimate parts and move with your body, protecting you from chafing.
Underwear interferes with this process and might even feel uncomfortable. That’s why specialists recommend going naked under the cycling shorts.
6. Setting Too High Goals
Just because you’ve hit the road for the first time with all your fancy cycling gear, it doesn’t mean you’re Lance Armstrong on his way to winning Tour de France. Too high expectations and too soon can result in a huge disappointment because it’s unlikely to be fit enough to keep up with your goals.
If your dream is to reach the average biking speed of the pros, set realistic goals and work your way to success one step at a time.
If you aim for performance, cycle regularly and establish a good workout routine that will help you increase muscular strength and improve your physical condition. With the time, you’ll be able to cycle further and faster, achieving your milestones and ultimately reaching your goal.
7. Buying Expensive Gear
If you’ve never owned a bike before, approaching road biking with the best possible gear might not be the best idea. In the beginning, you’ll make mistakes that could potentially damage your bike. And if this might not be a problem on an average-priced vehicle, it might cost you an arm and a leg to repair an expensive, professional bike.
And just to keep it in mind, owning the best cycling gear won’t make you a better rider. In fact, you’ll probably not even use a pro bike to its potentialities.
8. Forgetting The Bike Repair Kit
That’s one of the most frequent mistakes newbies make. But you should never hit the road without it. Punctures and flat tires happen, or you might have to adjust the chain or repair a brake cable. Whatever the issue, a bike repair kit can help you deal with the issues immediately, without having to ask for the intervention of friends or specialized bike repair centers.
9. Not Fueling Yourself Enough
Road biking makes you lose weight, but not eating enough won’t help the process. On the other hand, eating too much right before riding is also detrimental.
Your body needs fuel to keep going, and cycling is a demanding sport. The best way to get enough energy is by eating little and often. What you eat it’s up to you, and you can choose from a wide range of energy bars or shakes, or simply opt for a traditional meal rich in carbs and proteins.
Road biking is an awesome sport, but becoming a pro requires hard work and commitment. We all make mistakes at the beginning, and at the end of the day, what matters it to learn the lesson and keep going. Now, hop in the saddle and start working to achieve your dreams.