Top Beginner Road Cycling Mistakes

When you’re starting out in road cycling, there are many things to learn. It’s easy to make some simple mistakes.

Tom Bell, an elite-level cyclist from the UK, shares with us five of the most common road cycling mistakes and how you can avoid making them.

Too Much Road Cycling, Too Soon

Linked Fitness - Author Tom Bell - Road CyclingAs with any new endeavour, it’s easy to get over-enthusiastic about road cycling and burn yourself out. Sometimes this happens after just a few weeks!

When you first start cycling, try to hold yourself back. Keep the desire to ride alive by limiting yourself to maybe one or two rides per week initially. 

Not only will this help preserve your motivation and keep you itching to ride, but it’ll also be really helpful when it comes to avoiding overuse injuries. This type of injury can plague new riders who step up their cycling too rapidly. 

Using Too Low a Cadence

bicycle-557046_640New cyclists often pedal at a lower cadence (pedalling rate) in the mistaken belief that they are generating more power. However, doing so will tire the muscles quicker and under-develop your cardiovascular system. It can also put excessive strain on your back and joints.

Instead, when you start out, try to consciously pedal at a higher RPM than perhaps feels comfortable. Somewhere in the range of 80-95 RPM is a great number to shoot for.

It won’t be long before this cadence feels normal, and you’ll be riding far more efficiently. This higher cadence will really help when it comes to climbing, avoiding injuries and lasting the distance on longer rides.

Braking Badly

Linked Fitness - Author Tom Bell - Road CyclingWhen starting out, you’re often left to figure out skills like braking yourself. This makes it easy to slip into bad habits. Beginner cyclists will often brake too often and at the wrong times, leaving them unstable and lacking confidence on the descents.

The key to good descending is vision and correctly-timed braking. Looking where you want the bike to go, spotting the apex of turns, and being clear on your exit point will really help in increasing your speed downhill.

You’ll want to get most of your braking done before you enter a corner. This will ensure you’re not making the bike unstable as it grips the road. You’ll then be able to use the momentum of the corner to carry better speed, and feather the brakes to correct for any minor speed issues.

Fueling Poorly

New road cyclists are often tripped up by not taking on enough energy to fuel their ride. It’s a very common sight to see beginners run out of energy and experience the “bonk”. Don’t let it be you!

This one’s an easy mistake to rectify. It simply involves being disciplined enough to eat and drink at regular intervals during a ride. Taking a few sips of an energy drink or several bites of an energy bar every 20 minutes or so will do the trick. If you need help remembering, you can always set an alarm on your Garmin (or similar device), or perhaps tape a message to your bike’s frame!

We would love to hear about any mistakes that you’ve made as a beginner, as well as any tips you might have to offer to those starting road cycling! Why not join our Cycle Chat group and post pictures and comments on the groups wall.

About Tom Bell

Linked Fitness Community - Author - Tom Bell - Road CyclingTom is an elite-level professional cyclist from the UK, specialising in cross-country mountain bike racing.

In addition to an international racing schedule, Tom also coaches athletes and creates content to help other cyclists and mountain bikers improve their training and race performances. This includes everything from podcasting, to YouTube videos and blog posts.

Tom’s athletic goals for the year include a podium finish at the UK National Championships, to represent Team GB at the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, and to have a strong performance in the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup.

You can check out Tom’s website and YouTube Channel for more.

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