Spring’s finally here, and with it we’re super excited to kick off cycling season. Whether you’re a dedicated road cyclist or a casual commuter, there’s a few things you should do to make sure you start the season safely.
Prepare your body
If you’re the average European citizen, chances are that during winter, exercising has not been your top concern during winter. While our diet in winter tends to be richer in calories, also due to several holidays and different psychological and physical needs, we tend to find it easier to shift back to a healthier and lighter diet during the brighter and warmer months. So if you’ve been indulging in comfort food during winter, now’s the time to get your diet on track and make sure you’re giving your body all the important fuels it needs: from micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals, to good carbs, proteins and healthy fats.
Cyclists generally have strong leg muscles from pedaling. However, for your overall body health and to support your leg power, it’s also important to have a strong core and to not neglect your back. Additional exercises and targeted strength training, such as yoga or pilates, are a great way to prepare your body for those long days on the road. It will also increase the overall awareness of your body.
Another healthy advice is not to jumpstart your riding, but rather build up the intensity of your training gradually. Going from 0 to 100 can be a bad idea and, in the worst case, cause damage to your body.
Get your mind in gear
In some European countries, winters can be long and dark. It’s more than normal to struggle with finding the motivation to get more active again if you’ve been kind of taking it slow over the winter months. Often, catching the first rays of spring sunshine can already do a powerful job in recharging your energy levels. It can also be a great motivation to set yourself some goals for the season. Or why not sign up for a fun cycling event or race in your country? This could also be a great opportunity to get to know other cyclists with whom you can share your passion. Or, on a smaller scale, you could also join a cycling group in your city. Riding in a group is a fun experience and the cyclist community is simply amazing (if we need to stress this at all).
Give your bike a tune-up
Before getting back to longer bike rides and daily commutes, it’s important to give your bike a thorough spring check. Here’s what you should do:
- check if the brakes function correctly,
- all bolts are tightly screwed
- and the tyres have enough air and pressure;
- clean and lube your drivetrain,
- check the cables,
- and – last but not least – charge your bike lights, of course.
If you know what to look out for, you can easily do the maintenance by yourself. If you don’t, it’s better to bring your bike to your local bike dealer or workshop to make sure all its components work as they should. Giving your bike an additional spring cleanse will not only make it run more smoothly, but also give it a fresh and like-new shine.
Pro tip: For the best comfort and performance and to prevent your body from possible pains and damages, it’s important to adjust your bike to your individual body measurements. A proper bike fitting will adjust the height and position of your saddle, pedals and handlebar to make sure you’re riding as smoothly as possible and won’t hurt your knees or your back.
Ace up your apparel
If you’ve been cycling for some time already, you’re probably all stocked up on cycling apparel. In any case, special padded shorts and lightweight, breathable outerwear will improve your comfort while riding. If you’re a road cyclist, special cycling shoes with cleats to clip onto your pedals will enhance your connection with the bike and your speed. Proper rain clothes make it no problem at all to cycle or commute also on those gray days while staying dry.
Stock up on cycling gear
When it comes to cycling gear, there’s a few must-haves and lots of nice-to-haves. Here’s some of the most important equipment for cycling:
Although helmets are not mandatory yet in every country, it is strongly recommended wearing one for your own safety. Studies have shown that in the unfortunate event of an accident, the risk for serious head injuries are reduced by more than 60 percent if you wear a helmet.
Lights are an essential equipment for your safe bike ride. Not only do they make you see and be seen at night, but they can also help you reduce the potential danger of being unnoticed by drivers during the day. If you’re unsure about which type of lights are the right ones for your bike and needs, our guide might be a great help. To improve your visibility in the dark even more, you might also want to add some reflectors to your outfit.
Although riding with a bell, just like the helmet, may not be mandatory by law in your country, it is definitely a good thing to have on your bike and recommended to signal your approach to fellow road users in a clear and non-offensive way.
Gloves are another nice-to-have on the bike, especially for road cyclists. They don’t only protect you against all kinds of weather conditions and give you a better grip on your handlebar and brakes, but can also provide extra protection in case of an accident.
Wearing eyewear can also improve your safety on the road by improving your vision, which can be affected by different factors such as car exhaust, road debris, sun, fog or rain. There’s a number of different cycling-specific glasses that fit to different kinds of conditions, so be sure to select the right ones for your needs.
Having considered all the tips above, you’re ready to hop onto the saddle. Enjoy the ride and stay safe!