If you already have decent biking skills, road biking may just be the sport for you. Road biking is a great way to improve fitness, strength, and muscle power, and it also lets you see many miles of terrain on each workout. With the proper equipment and some basic rules of the road, you'll have everything you need to get started!
Cycling is a great way to burn excess calories and improve the health of your cardiovascular system. Many riders find that they burn up to 500 calories an hour, and if you cycle on hills or at a high intensity, you may burn even more. Biking uphill in particular works the large muscles of the leg, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, which is why cyclists have such toned legs. In addition, working these big muscle groups boosts your metabolic rate, so you'll burn more calories long after your ride is finished.
Bike gear varies widely in type and cost, and serious cyclists can spend thousands of dollars on bikes, helmets, shoes, clothing, water bottles, sunglasses, and other gear. If you're just getting started, however, you can make great strides with a good helmet and a road bike that operates properly. Have your helmet fitted to you by the experts in the store, and make sure your bike is fit to your body as well. Many bike shops offer specialized bike fittings. They'll help you set your seat to the proper height, for instance, and adjust the angle of your handle bars to suit your body.
As you progress in the sport, you may want to invest in cycling shoes that clip onto the pedal. In addition, a cycling jersey that wicks sweat away from your body will help regulate your temperature while you ride. Bike shorts (long spandex shorts) are specially padded for long hours on the bike seat.
If you're headed out on a long ride, or are going to be riding into the country, it's smart to learn the basics of bike maintenance before you go. You should know how to patch a tire and always carry a tire repair kit. Take your cell phone with you, and invest in a bike repair package that includes bike wrenches. Many bike shops offer classes in basic bike repair.
Rules of the Road
For the most part, bikes should act like cars when they're on the road. If there is a bike lane, it's always safest to use it. Otherwise, bikes have the same duties and responsibilities as other drivers. In other words, you must stop at stop signs and stop lights, signal your intent to turn, and always yield to pedestrians.
As you ride, be as predictable as you can, riding in a straight line. Wear bright clothing so you can be seen easily, and keep you eyes open for what cars, pedestrians, and other bikes are doing. In addition, watch out for road hazards like potholes, grates, manhole covers, and large rocks. Before you head out, always make sure your tires have enough air, that your brakes work, and that your bike is in good working order. Once you've checked your equipment, you're ready to ride!