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Cycling for Beginners: Getting Started in 2024

Welcome to the exciting world of cycling, a journey you’re about to embark on right here in Thousand Oaks. As a seasoned cyclist who’s explored road, gravel and mountain biking in the Conejo Valley, I’m here to guide you through this adventure. Cycling is not just about moving on two wheels; it’s about boosting your health, caring for our environment and enhancing your personal well-being. Let’s get rolling.

Let’s talk about choosing the right bike. Road bikes are sleek and fast, perfect for pavement. Mountain bikes are rugged companions for off-road adventures. Hybrid bikes offer a mix of both and are suitable for general use, and then there are the increasingly popular eBikes for that extra push, especially uphill.

Which one is for you? Consider your purpose. Are you commuting, keeping fit or just looking for some fun? Keep an eye on your budget, and also make sure the bike you choose fits you well for a comfortable ride.

Having chosen a bike for a specific type of riding, gear up for safety and comfort. A helmet is a must, and lights and reflectors are essential, especially for early morning or evening rides. A bell or horn can be a lifesaver on busy trails. For comfort, invest in padded shorts — trust me on this — and gloves to help you grip. Don’t forget water bottles, holders, and maybe a saddle bag or backpack to carry your essentials.

Bike maintenance is crucial. Learn to check your tire pressure, repair punctures, lubricate your chain and check your brakes regularly. Get your hands dirty by changing a tire, adjusting brakes and gears and keeping your bike clean. These skills will save you time and money — and may save your bacon someday in the middle of a ride.

Riding skills are next. Master the basics of starting, stopping, shifting gears, steering and balancing. Understand road signs, use hand signals and learn to navigate traffic safely.

Safety and health are paramount. Make sure you understand common cycling injuries and how to avoid them. Dress appropriately for different weather conditions. Balance your cycling with rest days; listening to your body is crucial.

Nutrition and hydration are another key. A balanced diet fuels your rides. Know what to eat before and after your rides. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your rides, and choose the right hydration packs or water bottles. A good rule of thumb is to drink one bottle of water and eat one bar for every hour on the bike.

Planning your first rides in Thousand Oaks will be a pleasure because the area offers beautiful, beginner-friendly routes. Start with short distances and gradually challenge yourself with longer rides. Use cycling apps and maps to find the best paths. My favorite resource is the free version of Strava. Log in and get a heatmap of all the most popular cycling routes in Thousand Oaks.

The cycling community here is vibrant and welcoming. Join local cycling groups for group rides, which are not only fun but also great for learning. Participate in local community rides and maybe even charity events or beginner races. The most popular local club for beginners is Conejo Valley Cyclists.

As you progress, set long-term goals. Move from beginner to intermediate levels and explore different types of cycling. Stay motivated by tracking your progress and setting new challenges.

That’s your beginner’s guide to starting cycling in 2024, right here in beautiful Thousand Oaks. Remember, every cyclist starts with a first ride, and every ride is a step towards a healthier, happier you. Embrace the journey and enjoy every mile. Happy cycling!

John Swanstrom is the founder of Cyclists Authority, which rates and ranks cycling products. You can also follow John’s rides on Strava.

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