Getting fit and keeping fit should be fun! Before I began cycling regularly, exercise was a chore I suffered through. I might go to a grueling indoor spinning class, which, granted, was a great workout, but afterward, I went home and ate twice the calories I just burned off! And I didn’t go back! At least not for a while. Indoor classes can be fun, especially in the winter, with great music blasting but read on.

At one time, I also struggling to lift heavy iron dumbbells assembled from worn-out 4-8-4 steam locomotives.  I felt pretty beat up when the session was over so I let my gym membership lapse!

Finally over a long time and a lot of trial and error, I learned these 8 secrets of cycling and I am happy to pass them on to you here, one day at a time.

Listen, the first secret to fitness on a bicycle is to make the ride fun, fun, fun, by riding outdoors, any time of day, and focus on having fun! You are outdoors in the elements, often sunny and warm, at least in summer. It may not be perfect. There may be some wind, some clouds, perhaps a cool bite to the air or a threat of rain. Often there is traffic on the road to be careful of.  Sure, there will be obstacles along the way, but they are all easily overcome.  Be sure and listen to your body.  Start each ride peddling very easy in order to warm up.  If you have an injury or are super sore, ice it.  I keep a bag of frozen corn in the freezer that corforms easily to any sore body part.  Eat well, plenty of whole grains like brown rice, cous cous, quinoa and bulgar, as well as plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Bonus tip: if the other vehicle is bigger than you are and wants to go first, let them! This is a rule of the sea, by the way, that the larger vessel has the right of way, and is an unwritten law on land too. So please keep that in mind. Don’t be like my friend who got in a fight with a bus and lost!

The second secret, something that is almost always neglected, is to keep up on the maintenance of your bike. For a ride to be fun, your bike must be in good shape and working properly. If you haven’t ridden in a while and the bike doesn’t shift properly or is making strange noises, take it to your local bike shop. While you are there, ask them if they will look at you while sitting on the bike and tell you if the seat needs adjusting or if you need a longer or shorter stem. You may even look around and be tempted to get a new bike. If you do, be sure it fits you. Consider paying for a professional fitting. All bike shops offer a fitting, often free with the purchase of a new bike. For now, we want to have a good ride on your current bike. Soon, you may want to upgrade, and I will give you great tips on that too.

Remember what they say about dressing for work or to go out on the town, “if you look good, you feel good”! This too applies to biking. The appearance of your bike affects how we feel and enjoy ourselves on the ride. It helps a lot if your bike is working smoothly and quietly, like a new car. Like every vehicle, a bike must be maintained, but that is not much work!

Maintenance is easier if you keep up with it and not ignore it. For example, I keep a fairly clean rag where I keep my bike. After every ride, I wipe the oily film of dust and grime off my chain, and wipe the film and grit off the 2 rear derailleur pulley wheels too. I might even pass a clean rag over the frame to keep it shining.

Once in a while, I spend twenty minutes cleaning the frame with soap and water, and cleaning the chain, chain rings in front and cassette in back with a used tooth brush and some handy solvent. I have seen some chains that seem to be bonded with grime. For that you need a brush and lots of solvent. For solvent, I have used diesel fuel, turpentine, solvent purchased from a bike shop, and even olive oil! The chain and the rings or cassette parts really need to be clean for your bike to shift properly and ride smoothly. So please wipe the chain off after every ride. It is surprising how easy this is and how well it works as a key maintenance item.  More secrets tomorrow…

Filed under: Uncategorized

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!