23 February 2005

Cycling: How to get started

To make it as easy as possible, take these first steps.

To make it extra easy, here are the first steps you need to take.

STEP 1: Choose a programme and set some realistic goals. Look at the first week of all three cycling programmes and choose the most realistic one.

STEP 2: Decide whether you want to train on an exercise bike in the gym or outdoors. We suggest that you do one to three of the weekday sessions at a gym (if it is more appealling/quicker/safer), but head outdoors for the longer sessions whenever you have the chance. Start off with an easy route, maybe around the block on a flattish route. As you become fitter, so you can incorporate some hills, which will certainly make for a tougher workout session! Do you prefer training before work or after work? Plan your training days and times accordingly. You will need to make time for 3 - 4 cycling sessions per week and 2 sessions of resistance training. This means that you need at least 4 days of exercising per week.

STEP 3: Work towards a goal: Training for Die Burger/Sanlam Cycle Tour will also get you fit and trim for summer.

STEP 4: Buy necessary training items. If this includes a bicycle, do so at a reputable sports store. Click here for a list of the equipment you need to consider.

STEP 5: Go to the "keeping track section" and see what base line measurements you need to take. Also check out the other records, you should keep. Do the base line tests, with the help of a spouse, partner or friend if necessary.

STEP 6: Diarise all your sessions for the first month, so they become NON-NEGOTIABLES.

STEP 7: You can either do you resistance training and cycling on the same days, or on the "rest" days for cycling. We suggest the following training principles:

  • Wednesday and Saturday are the main sessions when you must be prepared to work hard.
  • The other sessions are fillers where you do what you feel you can sustain. You should feel fresh for Monday.
  • On Saturday, ride according to how your legs and body feel generally. You should feel tired at the end of the session, but able to recover for Monday. You should be fully recovered for Wednesday.
  • On Friday, rest for Saturday's ride.
  • The training programme will work under the principal of progression. Thus the same sessions will be completed, but they will get slightly harder with the addition of more hills or speed, but this will be partly determined by your body.
  • You must always listen to your body and let it dictate how much it can manage.

Contact details
CycleScience is an indoor training facility located at the Discovery Health High Performance Centre at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Cape Town. Training is done on kingcycle wind trainers and set according to your power output that is adjusted as your fitness improves. CycleScience is an excellent way to use your training time efficiently and achieve significant improvements in performance. To find out more, please contact Ian Rodger at 021 659 5636 or e-mail:,

BODY iQ is a nation-wide service which gives you computer-based access to Sports Science Expertise and it could provide you with valuable training tools and advice. For more information: Tel 0860 263947; e-mail,

If wish to enter some fun rides held almost every weekend, phone the Pedal Power Association to find out more information. Cape Town Pedal Power Association - (021) 689 8420;; Gauteng Pedal Power Association - (011) 976 4092.

Prepared in conjunction with Sports Scientist, Ian Rodger of CycleScience (Discovery Health High Performance Centre, Sports Science Institute). Ph: 021 659 5636. - Megan Lloyd/Kathleen McQuaide




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