THE ALL-IMPORTANT MAINTENANCE
As boring as it may seem, the first thing to do before embarking on the wonderful world of cycling, is to service your bike. So, get out the lubricant and start with the chain. Here is a video showing you how to do that.
If you hear a chirp while cycling you can bet your boots that it is from the chain, so ensure it is always lubricated. Or, if you hear a clicking sound from the chain it could indicate a tight link. Using your hand, simply turn the crank backwards slowly, keeping an eye on the derailleur pulleys until the link jumps. With both hands take hold of the chain on both sides of the stiff link and bend it laterally so that it loosens, and add some lubricant. Works like a charm.
Grease and tighten the pedal threads to eliminate clicks while cycling. Pedals will warn you by squeaking, which is a tad irritating. A quick spray with lubricating oil at the point where the bike’s body meets the cage usually does the trick. If you have clipless pedals, check the cleats are tight, then thoroughly wipe the cleat contact points and spray on some silicone, removing the excess.
Listen out for any further squeaks, clicks or thumps and fix them. Don’t give them a chance to annoy you so much that you stop cycling.
Cycling is not particularly comfortable, but you will get used to the strange position, along with all its aches and pains. There is no such thing as a comfortable bicycle seat, but you will build up resistance to it. A good start for beginners would be to invest in professional help when purchasing or setting up the bike for long-distance cycling. Make sure you have well-padded cycle shorts – for obvious reasons – and gloves.
Get into a comfortable position on your bike and relax your shoulders. Every so often move your head around to avoid cramping muscles.
Keep your upper body as still as possible. Your back should be the swivel point, letting the bike move beneath it. Also, try not to hunch your back and move forward in the saddle when you tire. Try instead to stand and pedal every so often, alleviating back and hip pain.
On the dreaded long uphill climb, it often helps to use different muscle groups. Try moving backwards in the saddle to use your glutes, or forwards for quadriceps.
Your hands and arms absorb a lot of the bumps, so moving your hands from the handlebars to the frame will help alleviate tension and road vibration. Relax your grip.
The width of your handlebars should be the same as the width of your shoulders. Make sure you are comfortable, and it suits your riding style. Don’t let your elbows become wings, try and keep your arms straight, thus giving you the aerodynamics to speed up without using more energy.
Finally, enjoy this glorious sport. Get out into the open and improve your well-being. You’re worth it.