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Start Fitness Cycling!

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Image of mountain bikers on a trail

What You Need to Know Before Taking Up Cycling


Are you thinking of taking up biking as a hobby or perhaps a means of exercise?  Maybe you are ditching the car or public transportation and taking up bike riding as a means to get around. Either way, it’s a great hobby or workout or mode of transportation that is fun and easy to do.  Biking is considered Low impact – and causes less strain and injuries than many other exercises.  Cycling will use all of the major muscle groups as you pedal and is great for strength and stamina.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started in your cycling.

Five Things You Need to Start Cycling

  1.  The bike, of course – This really goes without saying. You will need to pick the right bike and fit for you. This is going to be the biggest process of the whole thing. First you need to decide where you are going to ride your bike. Paved road? Dirt? Hills? Flat surface? You’ll also need to get one that’s the right size.

More about this below. Check out this article about sizing your bike. And a video on fitting your bike

Bikes for Men

Bikes for Women

 2.  Biking shorts – While you could just wear any old pair of shorts or pants, biking shorts are nice and snug so there’s no concern of any fabric getting caught in a chain or on the seat causing an injury.

Shorts for men

Shorts for Women

 3.  A helmet – you will need to have protective gear. You definitely want to keep your head protected in case of an accident. It might even be required by law depending on where you are bike riding. So if you are thinking about skipping the bike helmet, check your local laws to make sure you aren’t required to wear one.  If you will be riding at night, you’ll want to get some sort of bike light as well.  (Arkansas requires red lights or a red reflector for the back of your bike and white lights for the front)

Bike helmets for Men

Bike helmets for Women

 

 4.  A bike repair kit or something to change a flat – Flats are going to happen no matter how careful you are. You’ll need an inner tube, CO2, patch, and tire irons. You’ll have to learn how to change the flat, though. Having the tools is great, but they are only as useful as their operator’s knowledge of how to use them.

Bike repair kits/tools

 

Check for how to videos online, or if you have a friend who’s handy see if he or she knows how to change a flat and can show you. There’s nothing worse than getting stranded with a flat and not being able to fix it. Here are some online videos on changing bike flats.

 

5.  A knowledge of the rules of the road – Knowing where not to bike on sidewalks, to bike on the same side of the road as traffic is going (on the right in Arkansas), and how to signal turns (with hand signals) will keep you safe and others as well. Having a good handle on your bicycle is going to be important to remain safe.

Biking Rules of the Road in NW Arkansas.  Be SURE AND READ THE RULES FOR BIKING IN ARKANSAS.

 

There are many things you could add to this list, but these are the basics. If you are going to take up cycling as exercise, you might want to consider purchasing a stationary bike for days when you can’t get outside due to weather.

Most of all a desire to ride is going to be important. You don’t want to go through the process of picking out and buying a bike only to later decide it’s not for you. See if you can borrow a bike from someone to try it out in case there’s any doubt so you don’t put too much money into something that’s just going to end up collecting dust. Chances are, though, once you start you won’t want to stop.

Choosing the Right Bike for You

There is a lot that can go into buying the right bike for you. You probably already have a budget in mind of what you are willing and able to spend on a bike, but how do you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck? Here are the things you should look for when shopping for a bike for yourself.

How You Know You Are Buying the Right Bike for You

  1. You will need to determine how you are going to use your bike. Will you be a regular cycler? Mountain biker? Sunday morning family biking? There are basically four different kinds of bikes that are used for all different terrain.

Road BikesImage of a road bike on a road

Road bikes are designed as you would imagine for the road. They are meant for paved streets and they are made for speed. They have skinny tires with a light frame. You will be bent over the handlebars, making you more aerodynamic. This isn’t a very sturdy frame. It’s meant for speed, not rough and tumble and bumpy terrain.

 

 

 

Mountain BikesImage of a mountain bike on a trail

Mountain bikes conversely are made for a bumpy terrain. These bikes have wide tires with a knobby tread. The frame is not nearly as lightweight and it’s more stout than road bikes. They are a more durable frame and you will find them to have a more comfortable riding position. You sit more upright which is great for those with back problems.

 

Hybrid Bikes.

Hybrid bikes offer the best of both worlds of road bikes and mountain bikes. They are good for short and not as fast road trips on pavement with a skinny tire that is smooth. You sit upright on this bike, too. It’s perhaps a good bike for your leisurely Sunday morning trip down to the corner store with the family. They have it all – speed, durability, and comfort.

Cruisers

Cruisers make great beach bikes. They have a wide tire, wide seat, upright handlebars, and even often times just a single gear. This is a durable bike, but it’s not meant for speed or rough terrain by any means. They are about a flat surface and comfort for the rider.

But perhaps these traditional bikes aren’t what you’re looking for. Maybe you like to think outside of the box. A tandem bike, tricycle, or recumbent might fit that bill. They are not bikes you will see very often, but you might want to look into these bikes if the kind of typical cycling described above is not what you hope to do.  Dogwood Junction (see below) in Bentonville and Siloam Springs specializes in Recumbent bikes.

Tips

  • If you are going to be carrying precious cargo (i.e. a baby/child) or need a basket for groceries perhaps, you will want to make sure the bike is suitable for adding a child seat or trailer to it or putting a basket on the front. Check with the bike salesperson about these features.
  • If you are having a hard time deciding what will work best for you, then see if you can borrow a bike. Perhaps a friend has a bike you can try out or rent one from bike rental to see how you like it. Trying before you buy is always smart.  Many of the shops around Bella Vista will allow you to ride the bike around the shop or outside to test the fit and comfort.
  • Remember you get what you pay for. You might have a budget for what you can spend, but don’t go for the cheap. You will likely end up paying more, in the end, replacing the bike every year or so.
  • Make sure you get the right fit. You will actually need to sit on the bike. Since people come in different sizes, bikes have to as well. You will need to be able to easily mount and dismount from the bike.
  • Have it professionally assembled? This way you are sure it’s put together correctly and there are no loose nuts or bolts. Many bike shops will offer this service.
  • Once you have found the right bike, don’t forget the protective gear.  As mentioned before, a helmet is to protect your head in case of falls (and you will eventually have a fall) if you continue to ride regularly.  Choose clothing that is light-colored for riding at night or at dusk; and lightweight for summer’s heat and layers for winter.
  • Your bike will need lights for the back and front to allow you to be better seen by traffic and other bikers.  A mirror to see what is behind you is very nice also.

Bikes shops near Bella Vista, Arkansas

We have several good bike shops in and around the Bella Vista, Arkansas area.  I’m listing them below.  If you choose to purchase a bike from one of these shops, please let them know you heard about them from “The Bella Vista Online Mall”

  • Lewis and Clark Outfitters  They have locations in Springdale and Rogers and all kinds of equipment and clothing for outdoor adventures.
  • The Phat Tire Bike Shop.  A bike shop with locations in Rogers, Bentonville, Springdate, Siloam Springs, Fort Smith and Fayetteville.  They offer rentals, sales, service for bikes.
  • Dogwood Junction. A bike shop offering traditional bikes as well as specializing in recumbent bikes.  They have locations in Bentonville and Siloam Springs.

Trails in the Bella Vista, Arkansas areaImage of a mountain trail in Arkanss

Here in northwest Arkansas and Bella Vista, we are very fortunate to have lots of awesome trails (over 200 miles) and paths to ride our bikes.  We can get fit and enjoy this beautiful area of the Ozarks along with many other riders. Check out Northwest Arkansas Trails website

 

Biking Information for Arkansas

Bella Vista Bike Club.  This is a road bike club in our area.  They have scheduled rides, mostly MWF in Benton county in Arkansas and MacDonald County in Missouri.  Check them out on Facebook.

Trails Edge Cabins.  These are cabins especially promoted for cycling enthusiasts traveling to our area.  Check them out on Facebook.  Find out more at the Vacation Rentals website.

Image of a paved mountain trail

Northwest Arkansas Razorback Regional Greenway.  The Razorback Regional Greenway in Northwest Arkansas is a project ongoing for years and was a goal of the regional planner, cities and also the residents of this area of Arkansas for 20 years.  It is supported by the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission (NWARPC), which in 2000 began a long-term planning process to build regional trails as a key component. This is definitely a coordinated effort among the communities of Northwest Arkansas.

Check this out on Facebook.  Also, watch this cool video.   You can download and print out the “pocket map“.

NWA Trails.  This is a website dedicated promoting Northwest Arkansas’ growing and impressive trail system to road cyclists, mountain bikers, runners, walkers, hikers, and others interested in experiencing the fantastic outdoors in Northwest Arkansas.

Cycling Arkansas.  Lots of great information on our State site and “things to do – Cycling”.  You can order a free travel guide on this site.

Summary

Cycling is a great and fun way to exercise but there are several things to know before you begin, incluing the appropriate laws for your state and city.  There are several decisions to make when choosing a bike for yourself.  NW Arkansas is a “biker’s heaven” with great trails and bike shops. The Bella Vista Online Mall has a Cycling-Biking Shop and A Hiking Shop with suggested products.

Comments

I love to receive questions and comments from site visitors.  Please leave yours below and if you enjoyed reading this post, share with your friends -Shirley

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