Skip to main content

What You Need to Know About Road Biking: A Beginner’s Guide


For many cyclists, taking a ride outdoors with a stunning landscape in the background and the sun shining down on a mild day sealed the sport as their new hobby. There’s something about pedaling on your best bicycle as you take in the surroundings that makes cycling so wonderful, no matter how fast or far you plan to go. Before you know it, you’re even enjoying climbing hills and leaning into the challenge.

Road cycling is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise and has a lot lower impact on your joints than running. Another benefit of road biking is that you can enjoy it completely solo or in a group. While there is an adjustment period, it’s a lifelong sport that will keep you fit and challenged for years to come.

Not to mention, it’s even a great way to see the world as you travel, be it on rails to trails or just hitting the road on two wheels. But before you take off, you need to start from the bottom. With an upfront investment in good gear and some training, you can take off on any road biking adventure that calls you.

Start Indoors

Westend61 / Adobe Stock

Perhaps it is my bias as an indoor cycling instructor, but I continue to believe that beginning your road biking hobby indoors is a great place to start. For starters, it’s a great place to meet other people who are interested in cycling, so you might be able to find someone to ride with when you do hit the road. But riding indoors is also a great transition to the road bike.

If you are not used to riding a bike often or sitting in the saddle for a long period of time, then a stationary bike gives you some leeway to adjust. By taking a couple of months of indoor cycling classes, you can just focus on getting used to the feeling of being in the saddle and the posture too. As you take the classes, sitting on an indoor bike means you don’t have to worry about falling over if you need to sit up and take a break as you build your endurance. A pair of padded shorts or leggings, known as a chamois, can also alleviate pain as you adjust to the bike.

Starting indoors will also help you to build up some cycling strength before hitting the road. Indoor cycling does not come with the same obstacles, like pavement drag or wind pushing against you. However, you can add resistance and up your strength so you are ready to hit the road with a good fitness base.

Find the Right Bike

If, after a month or two of indoor cycling, you find — or already know — this is a hobby that you’re going to stick with, then the next step is to buy a good bike that fits your body and your needs. Road bikes are pricey, but they can make a huge difference in your rides. The first thing you need to consider is how you will primarily be riding on the road. There are quite a few types of bikes to consider depending on how you will use them: Is it for commuting, road cycling, or long-distance trips?

Related Guides

Once you know how you want to ride most of the time, then it’s time to visit a bike shop, where you can get properly fitted for a bike. Usually, the bike frame should be about one inch below your body when you are standing over the bike. The skilled staff at a bike shop can certainly help you choose the right size of bike for your body as well as fine-tune the fit. You’ll also want to outfit the bike with a comfortable bike saddle and perhaps pedals so you can clip in if you plan to wear cycling shoes. Don’t forget to pick up the best bike helmet, which is an absolute must-have for road cycling, which inherently involves car traffic. You might even want to outfit your helmet or your bike with a mirror so you can safely change lanes and navigate car traffic.

Take a Repair Class

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Once you’re outfitted and ready to ride, you can go ahead and hit the road. It is, however, worth attending a repair class early on as you explore your new outdoor activity. Many local bike shops offer such classes or nights where they teach how to fix your own bike. Some outdoor retailers like REI offer bike repair classes too. On occasion, it’s even free to attend. Of course, it is very convenient to pick up the materials you might need to make repairs on the road, such as a portable pump or air cylinder, tire patches, spare tubes, and a multi-tool with Allen wrenches.

Inevitably, and hopefully not soon after buying a new bike, you will have some kind of trouble crop up while you’re out riding. Be it a flat tire or a slipped derailleur that catches your chain, you will undoubtedly want to know how to fix minor problems while out on the road so you can hop on and keep pedaling.

Plan Your Route

Image used with permission by copyright holder

With all of your prep complete, you can confidently set out on the road. Some opt to join a cycling group. There are usually several levels or speeds at which the groups ride, and many rides are “no drop,” meaning they won’t leave anyone behind on the ride. It isn’t a race after all. This is a great way to meet people and build your community with the new outdoor activity, but it can also introduce you to regular routes many other cyclists take. If enough cyclists are on the routes, then locals in cars tend to be more aware of cyclists on the road, too. This also means that if anything goes wrong while you’re road cycling, there are likely other cyclists out and about to check on you or offer help.

You can also use tools like Map My Ride or Strava to plan and map out your routes. These websites and apps allow you to see distance and elevation gain, too, so you’ll know how much climbing your ride entails. Start with a shorter ride, such as 10 to 20 miles, and work your way up. Finding or mapping a nice-sized loop, such as an 8- to 12-mile loop will also allow you to slowly build up to longer rides by simply adding another lap.

So take your time, but be willing to push yourself to add more miles as you become more acquainted with your bike and how your body feels with more time in the saddle. Keep in mind that it’s best to keep your goals based on distance rather than time as factors such as wind can add time to your ride.

Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
Stop mowing and let the Husqvarna Automower do it for you — 40% off for Prime Day
Husqvarna Automower 430XH mowing while someone does yardwork in the background

It's summertime, so your lawn is growing fast, putting more work on you unless you hire someone to mow it. But there is an alternative: robotic lawnmowers. They're designed similarly to a robotic vacuum, operating out of a dock to mow your grass and returning to charge when the job is done. They can be expensive, but thanks to some Husqvarna Prime Day deals, you can save a little money and recover some of your time. Several Husqvarna Automower series are on sale, including the Husqvarna Automower 430X, 430XH, and 450XH. Take 40% off select models and get that grass cut while you sip a nice cold beverage and maybe enjoy a stogie. Interested? Take a look at those deals below.

Husqvarna Automower 430X robotic lawn mower -- $1,500, was $2,500
Built to handle all lawns and any weather, the Automower 430X can navigate narrow passages, avoid obstacles, and move over slopes up to an angle of 45 degrees. It cuts at a capacity of 1,430 square feet per house and can handle yards up to 0.8 acres. It uses flawless smart integration, allowing you to control schedules, track its current location, and more. You can use your smartphone to start the system or call out through voice with Amazon Alexa or Google Home. It also has security features such as GPS theft tracking, a built-in alarm, and a PIN code lock to deter would-be thieves.

Read more
Get an ECOFLOW DELTA 2 solar generator for 52% off — $479
EcoFlow DELTA 2 from the side view.

Portable power stations or solar generators are always excellent to have in an emergency or outage situation or just for portable power while you're camping or traveling. There are quite a few options because, admittedly, the market is flooded with them these days, but a mainstay in the business is ECOFLOW. Thanks to an Amazon Prime Day deal, you can grab the ECOFLOW Delta 2 solar generator today for just $479, which is 52% off the regular price of $999. That saves you $520 if you're counting. It has a 1,024-watt-hour capacity, with an expandable capacity of up to 3 kilowatt-hours if you add expansion batteries. That's enough to power for quite a while, and the 1800-watt output can power just about anything from appliances to electronics. I have one, and I love it.

Here's why you should consider the ECOFLOW DELTA 2 Prime Day deal
At half the usual cost, you're getting an incredible deal on a highly-capable power station, or really, solar generator. You can connect solar panels to charge the system anywhere there's sunlight. That frees you from having to stay near home or outlets to charge it, but when you are home, you can charge it that way, too.

Read more
Here’s how to enjoy watching soccer when you’re not a die-hard fan of the sport
Confused about the 'Beautiful Game?' We'll show you how to get into soccer
Megan Rapinoe USA v Netherlands 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Finals soccer

We’ve all heard the complaints about soccer, the world’s most popular sport. "There isn’t enough scoring," we like to mutter. "There are so many fake injuries," we say. "Ties! Outrageous!"
Whether you’re a fan or you only find yourself watching soccer during the Olympics or the World Cup, soccer (or football if you're anywhere but the U.S.) is here to stay. In fact, with more U.S. networks picking up tournaments and league games abroad — not to mention a flourishing home-grown league in the MLS — the sport is only expanding its already massive reach.
If American football is your thing, so be it. Love hoops? Me too. But there are ways to enjoy a soccer match for even the most casual or curious viewer.

Focus off the ball

Read more