Sometimes, knowing how to ride a bike just doesn’t cut it. If you want to take your cycling to the next level – whether that means riding regularly or entering races – you need to do prep work beyond picking out an awesome bike and hitting the road. In this post, I’ve listed a few points you ought to consider before you ride off into the sunset. These simple tips can help you get your cycling journey off to a great start.


Suit up

One of the most important pieces of gear you can buy when you’re getting started with cycling is a good pair of padded shorts. No matter how padded your saddle is, it’s the shorts that will really make the difference on long rides. You also need a good quality helmet and if you are mountain biking, additional protection like gloves and knee pads are highly recommended. Invest in a sturdy pair of sports glasses as well to shield your eyes from stray stones, bugs, rain and sun exposure.


Get your bike road ready

When you’re first starting out, it’s a great idea to develop a relationship with a friendly local bike shop. To get started, they can check your riding position and make sure that your saddle and handlebars are set correctly. Later on, they can help you troubleshoot problems, make recommendations if you’re looking for new gear and teach you how to perform regular maintenance on your bike. You’ll especially want to make sure that you are routinely washing your bike, cleaning and oiling your chain and checking your tire pressure to keep your rides smooth. If you’re riding in rainy or wet conditions, you’ll also want to fit mudguards or fenders.


Be prepared

Whether you’re riding solo, in a group or in the city streets, it’s important to be mindful of safety guidelines that pertain to your situation. Also, always carry a tire repair kit and make sure you know how to fix a puncture. It’s important to have a good supply of water with you at all times, so pack a hydration backpack or a water bottle and fill up along the way if you run out. You’ll need more than water to keep you fueled though; make sure to bring a banana, an energy bar or other substantial snacks to give you a boost when your energy reserves are low. If you experience cramping, it’s a good idea to pack something that will provide your body with electrolytes.