Seven Mistakes Cyclists Make

By: Colin Johnson

The Tour De France seems to capture the imagination of an increasing number every year and results in more and more fitness and health conscious folk dusting off their cycles and hitting the streets. For the enthusiast, expert or novice, there are a number of points to consider and act upon before embarking on your adventures. Ignorance is not bliss. Absorb all the advice you can get before heading off and having fun.

1. Don't leave home without a safety check of your bike and don't put your kids on a bike unless you've given the bike a once-over. Check the gear changes, brakes, seat heights and bell and make sure it will be a comfortable ride for all. Sometimes cogs, chains and gears collect sand and grit and do not move as well as they should, especially if they've been sprayed with certain products in the past. Take a puncture kit with you or you may live to regret your outing!

2. If possible ride with others. If fitness is your motivation, this helps to keep you accountable and you are less likely to opt out if you just don't feel up to it today. If you're a serious cyclist and competing is your driving force, then a buddy of comparative standard will help push you to the next level. If fun is a high priority, then having others there to enjoy the ride, the scenery and the experience will heighten the event significantly. Obviously the safety factor also comes in here. A companion may even save your life one day. If riding alone is the only option, then always let others know your route.

3. Plan your ride before heading out. Know approximately the length of the ride and the terrain and whether the route is cyclist friendly with road provision made for riders in mind. Treacherous stretches of road may look inviting but is it worth the risk? When travelling by car take note of the roads and routes that would make for an ideal path of pleasurable pedalling. When riding, decide ahead of time that patience will be your guide. Many motorists may consider you a nuisance and feel you have no right to be there. Some will never even see you! Don't take them on, they are bigger than you, and again, it is not worth the risk.

4. Don't go empty-handed. Your body absolutely needs water while you ride, sip on it regularly and stay hydrated. If you are a serious rider, you will benefit from an amino based drink which delivers advanced energy and endurance with carbs and electrolyte replacement. You can guarantee that the riders in the Tour De France are not carrying just good old H2O in that colored water bottle! Your physical wellbeing will also be aided by fruit such as bananas and other energy boosters.

5. It sounds an obvious one, but correct attire for cycling is paramount. Comfort and safety go hand in hand here. The correct choice of clothing can assist you greatly in your ability to stay cool in hotter conditions and conversely, can help heat retention in the cooler environments making for a much more pleasant outing. The color of clothing is also a major consideration. Make sure it's bright and easily seen by motorists and other road users. And make sure you have a suitable helmet! If you have kids riding it is imperative that the helmet fits correctly and the chin strap is set at an adequate tightness. Most kids loosen these and can therefore miss out on their amazing impact cushioning abilities in an accident. It is a proven fact that helmets save lives.

6. There are fewer lovelier sights than a whole family out cycling, from the tiniest tot strapped in to a bike seat behind mum or dad to Grandad and Grandma. Far from the tooting traffic, there are an increasing number of cycle tracks which have been exclusively created for cycling enthusiasts. Find them, take the whole family and enjoy them. You will be modelling a fit, healthy lifestyle to the kids and hopefully they will carry on their cycling into adulthood. What better way to combat rising childhood obesity?

7. Don't be careless about how you finish. You'll be hot and sweaty and ready for a shower, but there's something more important to do first. Give your muscles a chance to recover and repair by cooling down gradually and then by having a protein supplement (usually in the convenient form of a shake or drink). Protein is the building block of cartilage, muscles, bone and blood and it is protein which is the crucial factor in prevention of injury and enhanced performance. It's no wonder that so many of our professional athletes head straight for a whey protein drink after exercise. For muscle recovery, repair and growth, it's a priority.

There's nothing like the feeling of sun on your face and wind in your hair. You'll love the fresh air and sense of freedom you get when cycling. Don't let anyone stop you getting out there and improving your fitness. Ensure you have studied (and acted on) as many articles like this as you can get your hands on. Then do something your body (and family) will thank you for and go cycling as an informed, responsible cyclist!

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Colin Johnson has been a fitness educator, drug educator, serious sports coach and father of five all in one lifetime! Colin highly endorses Amino Acid supplements drinks for the serious cyclist as well as whey protein for muscle repair.
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