Ten beginner cycling mistakes not to make
Are you new to cycling? If so, welcome aboard!
There are a few mistakes we all make when we first get into the saddle, so to save you the pain of making them yourself, we’ve rounded them up and explained what not to do!
Don’t wear underwear beneath your bib shorts
If you’ve got padded bib shorts, don’t wear your underwear underneath! Cycling shorts are carefully designed to keep seams away from your delicate bits, with the chamois pad perfectly designed to fit your behind.
Keeping your underwear on beneath your cycling shorts will totally remove all these benefits, so be brave and take ‘em off! Embrace the joy of a clean, comfortable, underwearless ride.
Beat the bonk with solid snacking
Who hasn’t bonked at some point in their riding life? You go out and ride that little too far or a little too hard, feeling like a champion… then run out of energy altogether and ‘bonk’ or ‘hit the wall’.
‘Bonking’ is the term used when you run out of muscle glycogen to fuel your pedalling. For any ride longer than around 90 minutes, it’s advised you take a high-carb snack to keep yourself topped up. For long rides, aim to eat little and often, taking on around 60g carbohydrate per hour (For reference, two bananas is roughly 60g carbohydrate – but our favourite option is some cake at the coffee stop!).
Don’t be the group ride hero
We’ve all done it. Go on our first group ride, feel like life at the back is a little too easy and hit the front, all of a sudden to realise being first in line ain’t so straightforward!
Remember the effect of drafting if you’re riding in a bunch with a club or at an event. Sitting directly behind another cyclist significantly reduces wind resistance, making it easier for you to hold a high speed. So before you get over-confident and hit the front of the bunch, take a moment to consider just how strong you’re feeling.
Nail your unclipping technique
Have you gone clipless yet? If so, you’ll have experienced that heart-in-mouth moment where you roll up to a traffic light or road junction, go to unclip from the pedals, and realise that your foot is stuck!
It can take a few rides to get used to pulling your cleat clear of a clipless pedal, so to avoid any embarrassing slow motion curb-side crumbles, take yourself off to an empty car park or cul-de-sac and spend an hour or so nailing your technique.
A perfectly-lubricated chain is a happy chain
Never let your chain run dry… but also don’t overdo it with the oily stuff. People think you need a heavy coating of lubricant on your chain to have your bike rolling smooth and quiet, but too much lube will just make your drivetrain dirty, and worse still, could mark your socks!
Regularly de-grease your chain and re-apply a very thin coating of lube. When you’re done, wipe off any excess, and always remember – less is more when it comes to lube!
Carry a puncture repair kit – and know how to use it!
We’re sorry to break it to you, but not every bike ride goes perfectly, and there will come a time when you get a puncture. And when that moment comes, make sure you have the tools and the know-how to get a new tube inserted and inflated.
We advise you always carry a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a CO2 inflator or mini pump so that you can replace a punctured tube at the side of the road. But there’s more to it than just having the kit in your back pocket – make sure you know how to use it!
It’s well worth having a few practice runs at the art of removing an inner tube and installing and inflating a new one. It’s super-simple when you’ve done it a few times, but your first go can always be a bit of a challenge – so do it from the comfort of your own back yard rather than stood in the rain an hour away from home.
Don’t miss your first free service
If you are totally new to cycling and have just invested in a shiny new bike, be sure to look after it. The first, and most simple thing to do, is to get it serviced after around six weeks. Many bike shops offer this as a free add-on when you buy the bike, and make sure you take them up on it.
When you first start riding a brand-new bike, it can take a while for the cables and chain to ‘bed in,’ meaning that your gear shifting and braking performance may deteriorate slightly. This is easily fixed by a knowledgeable mechanic, so get down to your local bike shop and get that six-week check up!
Know how to use your gears
Bikes have gears for a reason, so be sure to know how to use them! It’s a common sight to see a new cyclist grinding away in a big, heavy gear, or alternatively, spinning like a crazy person in a gear that’s too small.
Make sure you understand when to shift up and down your bike’s cassette to match your gradient and speed, with the intention of holding a cadence of around 80-90rpm. This will make your rides faster, more fun, and less painful on the legs!
Saddle height – get it right
It’s a common sight to see a new cyclist with their hips rocking from side to side due to a saddle set too high, or looking like a crazy frog on a saddle set too low. It’s important to get saddle height correct to prevent injury and maximise power transfer.
The ideal way to get your saddle set correctly is as part of a full professional bike fit, which is important for anyone planning to spend a lot of time on the bike. For a quick guide to get your saddle in the right position, you want to have just a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is fully down, at the six o’clock position.
Wear proper cycling socks – and make sure they’re made by PONGO London.
You’ve got the snazzy new bike and helmet, you’ve invested in a sexy jersey, but what about your cycling socks? Bog-standard sports socks just don’t cut it, and certainly don’t go for any ankle socks unless you want to rapidly loose the affections of all your new cycling buddies.
A proper pair of cycling socks will support your foot, keep you cool, and, if you opt for a pair of PONGO cycling socks, make you look awesome. We offer a range of colours and styles to match all tastes so check out the range and avoid the worst cycling mistake: bad socks.
Pull them up! Let's ride.