Spring is here, and so is my urge to be outside more often! I take every moment I can to enjoy the sun (as it’s still quite rare in the Netherlands) and preferably I take a walk through the city centre of Utrecht or through nature. However, now that I found my new hobby I really don’t want to spend time inside anymore! Over the past few years I’ve been using my dad’s bicycle (and mountain bike) for some exploration of the Dutch country side. However, as I was a poor student, I’ve never dared to get a road bike of my own. What if I wouldn’t use it so much? Then it would be a waste of money. Also, I already played badminton quite often, and I didn’t really have a safe place to store my bike. So I never really got to buy one of my own.
BUT NOW I DID!! :D When I was done studying, moved to a new city and got a job. My goal was to get myself a bike with my first paycheck. However, as I had some debts with my parents I wanted to pay that first and then I was finally able to buy a bike! I took it for a spin now 2 times and it’s been great. I’m very certain I won’t regret this decision! However, starting this new hobby isn’t something you can do in a day. It takes some preparation and quite a big financial investment. Therefore, I’d like to share with you my tips to get started!
1. Try it before you buy it!
Have you ever been bicycle racing before? No? Then try it out first, because it would be a shame if your investment was made for nothing! With trying, I mean borrow a bike from someone you know, and make a nice ride! Are you enjoying the feeling of freedom? Don’t mind about a little saddle and leg muscle soreness? Then it might be the perfect sport for you! (Going spinning in the gym is incomparable, I personally really don’t like that ;))
2. Set your budget.
As mentioned before, bicycle racing isn’t that cheap. The bike alone can be a huge investment with new bikes varying from 500 till a couple of thousand! Therefore, it’s really important you consider how much you want to spend. I made my budget largely dependent on how certain I was of starting with my new hobby. I personally decided to go for a second hand bike of 300 euros (beautiful TREK bike, great deal, almost new!). So I could see if I would really love it, I could always scale up my bike if it didn’t suffice. When buying a bike I can recommend you to look at the following elements:
- Find a fitting frame size for your body length. You can measure this easily by setting your legs apart for 15 cm and measuring the inside of your leg. Then multiply this number by .68 and find your perfect bike size!
- Consider wether you want a women’s bike or men’s bike. As the differences aren’t tremendous, and women’s didn’t really exist for many years before, I decided to go for a men’s bike (because I found a nice one secondhand). The major differences are in the saddle and a slightly shorter frame for women. However, as I’m quite tall, I thought those differences would be minimal and I could always buy another saddle later.
- Make sure you check your bike is in good shape if you buy it secondhand. For instance check the frame for damage, if the gears are not worn, if you don’t hear anything rattle when you shake it a bit and see if the wheels are still straight. Those things can’t be fixed easily!
3. Determine needs and wants
When you’re starting biking, the bike is not the only thing you may need. You also need other bike gadgets on the bike and a good outfit! These costs may also run quite high so therefore you need to divide what you need and want. For me these were my needs and wants:
- Bottle cage
- Cycling shorts with padding
- Gloves (not really that necessary, but quite comfortable)
- Arm Sleeves (because it was still quite cold outside)
- Odometer (to track my speed, distance etc) I now use the Strava app on my phone, which is also nice, but I would like it more if I could see my performance right away on the road!)
- I have an old short-sleeve shirt now, which i’d like to replace later on
- Cycling shoes (just cycling with normal pedals and sport shoes now)
- Shoe socks for colder weather
- Long cycling tights
- Another Bottle case for longer trips
4. Set Goals & Get Started!
When starting a new sports, some sort of plan and goal would be nice. It gives you the drive to really pick it up and invest time in your new sports! Finding a buddy who also likes to cycle is especially great, as you can stimulate each other to get on your bike and make the best of your trips. Also, it might be nice to consider joining a tour, which also gives you that extra push to train! Finally, there are many cycling clubs & communities where you can join, for meeting some new people and training together!
Personally, I didn’t set any of those goals. Mostly because I have badminton as my primary sport already and I don’t want to put that on the background. Therefore, my goal is to cycle once a week the coming months. At the moment by myself, but I already found some people who I might cycle together with in the future :)
I’m really excited about my new sport: I love the speed of cycling and exploring the surroundings of Utrecht, especially with the sun on my face! :D