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17 March 2006

How can I learn to be a road cyclist?

Regardless of your body shape and size, almost anyone of any age and fitness level can benefit from cycling. It’s low-impact, and the basic skills are easy to master.

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Regardless of your body shape and size, almost anyone of any age and fitness level can benefit from cycling. It’s low-impact, and the basic skills are easy to master.

Consider joining a group or club for regular rides. This can be very helpful in terms of support, motivation, picking up tips from experienced cyclists, and finding out about races and events.

Cycling is a good sport for families and children, too. The emphasis for kids should be on having fun while learning important cycling skills that will ensure they become competent riders.

To progress with the sport, you will need to work out an individual training programme for cycling appropriate to your age, skill level and experience.

Who should opt for another sport
If you have a powerful, muscular build, you may excel at a high-speed, explosive or ‘sprint’-type cycling rather than endurance cycling.

Some people do find hours of road cycling repetitive, so you should opt for another sport if you crave more variety.

If you suffer from back problems, especially low-back pain, cycling may exacerbate it.

Type of exercise needed
Putting in several hours and several hundreds of kilometres on the road every week, as well as some lower-body strengthening exercises in the gym.

More about the basics
It’s important to achieve a certain level of skill to keep you safe on the roads. Road cycling involves being savvy and responsible, and avoiding hazards like cars, potholes, glass – and other cyclists.

Cyclists often forget the latter danger during races when the roads are cleared of motor vehicles, but crashing into a cyclist going at high speed can cause serious injury and even death. Technical aspects like changing gears also need to become second nature, so you can concentrate on your riding and the cycling environment.

 
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