Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike. –John F. Kennedy
You’ve made the commitment. You’re ready to take your cycling game to the next level. But you have no idea where to begin. Bike training, or cycling training, is different from other exercises out there in that you are completely dependent on your equipment for the activity. Not only do you need to have a reliable bike for your daily workouts, you need to learn the ins and outs of intensity training and be able to monitor your body’s progress. Like any exercise, you need the proper gear to help keep you at your peak for longer and making sure you have the right safety equipment can help prevent injury. Of course, there are other aspects to bike training, including learning how to ride a bike. While we don’t necessarily always think of this as a crucial part of your biking journey, there are plenty of trainer bikes made to help beginner cyclists learn how to balance, and how to ride their bike.
Bike training is a combination of science and the art of workout out, where there is a delicate balance between exertion and enjoyment. Just like any new workout routine, it can feel overwhelming trying to choose the right equipment to get started on your cycling journey. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and pulled together the best bike training gear on the market today, so you can shop with confidence knowing you’re choosing the right gear for you. The hardest part any workout routine is getting started, and we’re here to help you feel confident enough to jump into gear. So whether you’re looking to learn to ride a bike, or are ready to start training for your next race, we’ve got plenty of articles to help you give it your all.
But that’s enough about us, why don’t we take a brief trip into the past to learn about bike training, and how we’ve gone from the early days of biking to the high-tech world of lactate tracking and interval training?
A Brief History of Bike Training
Unlike sports like running and wrestling, bike training only goes back as far as the invention of the bike itself in the 1800s. Still, even with this slightly shortened historical background, bike training gets a lot of the same influences from early athletic training methods. After all, while bikes may be new in the grand scheme of things, the human body has been the same for thousands of years, meaning the way we train our circulatory and respiratory systems tends to be consistent, even if the science has updated along the way.
One of the earliest examples of dedicated bike training comes from 1896, with the first modern Olympic games, but bike racing had been popular before this as far back as 1868, with the first bike race held in Paris. In many of these instances, bike training came down to, well, riding your bike. While there may have been other exercises thrown in to work your whole body, many leading cyclists throughout history held to the idea of “getting your miles in,” meaning the further you biked total, the stronger you would get. While this is a great idea, as dedication is one of the key ways to build stronger muscles and tone your body, there is more to bike training than just biking the same distance every day.
Still, it wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s with the advent of some of the technological advances we take for granted that bike training could blend science with practice, and bring us things like heart rate trackers, distance and exertion trackers, and a better understanding of how muscles form over time. With this explosion in technology, biking went from getting your miles in to tracking every aspect of your workout to make sure you were training for your peak. While this attitude allows cyclists to reach higher and achieve more than we ever thought possible, it can be overwhelming to try and step into the ring with all of these technological changes.
For the beginning cyclist, the idea of intensity training, tracking calorie expenditure, and targeting lactate production can become overwhelming, especially if they’re just looking for a fun exercise routine to get in shape. That’s why we work to offer in-depth guides to all things bike training, so you can hit the road with confidence. But how do you choose the right bike training gear? And where do you even start with so many options on the market?
Choosing the Right Bike Training Gear
The first step to choosing the right bike training equipment is to know what your end goal is. This doesn’t have to be a big declaration, it can be as simple as “get healthy” or “have fun biking.” And of course, this goal can change as you grow to love cycling and everything that comes with it, but having a basic idea of what you’re looking for out of your workout routine can make it that much easier to choose the right equipment for you.
The first, and most important, piece of gear you want to invest in is your bike. You may be tempted to jump at the first carbon fiber, high-end cycle you see, and if that is what you are looking for they are well worth the investment. But for the average cyclist, aluminum bikes work just as well as carbon fiber for training purposes, and tend to be a bit more budget-friendly in the long run. Before you take to the road on your bike, be sure to have a tune up and adjust your bike so you are comfortable in the seat. Nothing throws off a workout like discomfort, and a avoiding pitfalls like chafing and back pain can keep you training at your best.
The next thing to look into is training apparel. Most cycles are made for use with padded bike shorts, and there are plenty of options available on the market to fit your unique needs. Not a fan of the skin-tight look? They even make baggy padded shorts to provide comfort and make sure you don’t feel self-conscious during your workout. Another thing to consider is the general apparel you are looking to use while exercising. As with almost all exercise routines, avoid cotton, and go for moisture-wicking fabrics that keep you cool when it counts, and warm when you need it.
As with any cycling experience, you want to make sure you have the right safety equipment, and this includes a helmet. You want to make sure any helmet you choose fits your head snugly and is not too loose or too tight. Many helmets can come with things like visors to help keep debris from entering your eyes while biking, and these can be worthwhile investments for the serious cyclist.
Other things to look into apparel-wise are gloves to help reduce blistering on your hands, knee and elbow pads, for the rough rider, and of course, the right pair of cycling shoes to keep you pedaling at your best. These basics allow you to put in the effort to improve your body, without running the risk of wearing yourself down with things like windchill, chafing, and more.
Once you have the basics, it’s time to look into the world of technology to help set yourself up for success. There are plenty of power monitors on the market that can be easily outfitted for your bike, allowing you to track your overall progress while on the road. Heart rate monitors and standing exercise bikes allow you to perform at your peak all year long, and let you get in the miles no matter what nature decides to throw at you. Looking to train on your bike without leaving the house? There are plenty of exercise bike stands that allow you to transform your trusty bike into an exercise machine, so you can get in the miles on something you’re familiar with.
And of course, bike training includes more than just getting on your bike and going. There are plenty of exercise machines that can take your cycling game to the next level, like step machines, elliptical machines, and treadmills to target different muscles for an overall performance boost. It’s always a good idea to figure out the kind of exercises you are looking to do before investing in exercise equipment, and consulting with a professional trainer or other cyclists on what they find works best for them can help you invest with confidence. Remember, no matter what gear you have or what routine you stick to, and important part of any exercise routine is working with your body, not against it, so be sure to find out what works right for you.
Get Your Balance
Whether you’re looking for a good bike for seniors or train for your next marathon, finding the right training equipment is crucial to increasing your overall performance, and ensuring that you become the best you can be in no time at all. But it’s important to stick to your workout routine, and continue to push yourself to be the best, as you won’t become an accomplished cyclist overnight. But once you hit your stride, and feel the wind through your hair, you’ll fall in love with cycling all over again, and find yourself dreading your rest days because it means one less day out on the road. Be sure to listen to your body, do your research, and get out on the road as much as possible, and you’ll become a peak cyclist in no time.