Here’s What You Need To Know Before Your First Outdoor Cycling Ride

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As the weather gets warmer, you may want to start putting all your hard work from your Peloton Bike to the test on the open road in outdoor cycling workouts. And while there are so many things that you can apply from an indoor cycling workout to an outdoor one, there’s a lot of new information to keep in mind in order to stay safe and get the most out of your time outside. Peloton instructor Christine D’Ercole, who is an accomplished racer and longtime cyclist, says there are five key things you need to address before hitting the road.

Assess Your Safety  

“It should go without saying, but protect your head,” says Christine. “No matter how short your trip, wear a helmet–it will literally give you peace of mind.” An outdoor environment means you need to stay even more alert to what’s around you, so one key part of the Peloton experience will likely have to change: “I recommend that you do not wear headphones,” she says. “We love riding to music in our indoor cycling classes, and it can be tempting to take it on the road, however, if you are riding where there is other moving activity, even if it’s other cyclists, it’s important to remain alert and to listen for the proximity of other riders or cars.” When you’re aware of your surroundings, you’re able to react appropriately to any potential problems or accidents that could arise. “As as a cyclist, you have a slightly higher and more open visibility than a driver in a car, and at speed, you are able to see and anticipate the moves of pedestrians and vehicles around or ahead of you,” says Christine. “However, those pedestrians and vehicles are generally not on the lookout for cyclists so be mindful of this and don’t be afraid to use your voice and your brakes (gently) to announce yourself.”

Check In With Your Bike

Another aspect of staying safe is making sure your bike is in good shape to ride, and that means being consistent with its upkeep. “Maintaining your bike is pretty simple–keep it clean and properly tuned. Don’t leave it in rain. If it must be outside, get a cover or tarp for it,” she says. And when your bike gets a little dirty from your outdoor activities, make sure to take care of it shortly after. “Keep your bike clean by washing it every so often, especially after a rainy, snowy or dirty ride,” says Christine. “I like to put my bike in the tub and use Simple Green to degrease and clean it–remember that there are bearings in every part that turns, wheel hubs, bottom bracket and headset, pedals and derailleur pulleys. Feel that each of these parts rolls smoothly–if you feel resistance or crunching while rotating, get them checked.” If any part of your bike doesn’t seem or feel right, Christine always recommends visiting your local bike shop as soon as possible to have a professional check it out–this is one of the top ways to stay safe and take care of your bike at the same time!

Maintain Proper Form

Just like when you’re riding inside, it’s important to maintain proper form during your outdoor rides in order to stay safe and put more power in each pedal stroke. “If you are in any way uncomfortable while riding or are experiencing discomfort some time after your ride, you should get a form check–while there is some cost involved, it is 100% worth it.” If you’re not sure if you need to revisit your setup, she says to stay alert to how you feel during and after your ride. “Pay attention to the signals your body is giving you. If you feel perched onto the bike and your hands hurt, something can be adjusted–if the saddle isn’t comfortable, it can be changed,” says Christine. While it can be exciting to get outside for an outdoor ride, remember that it’s important to take the necessary steps in order to stay safe and ultimately feel good after your workout. “In order to promote your continued self-care, take the time to get this looked at and remember that riding with proper form can help reduce the risk of injury.”

Train On The Terrain

The strength and endurance developed from indoor cycling classes is a great benefit when you take your hard work outdoors. “Riding indoors is great practice for anything you’d like to do outdoors, including those long 50, 60,100+ miles benefit rides, enthusiast club rides, and competitive racing,” says Christine. “The bulk of my training is what I do indoors while teaching my Peloton classes, and I have a few medals to show that it works!” To complement your indoor training, get creative with the workouts you implement on the road and depending on the terrain that you have access to, you can use whats around you to create some great training strategies. “If you have a short steep hill, you can perform ‘hill repeat’ intervals–just be sure to recover in between!” says Christine. “If you have a long flat stretch, you can practice your sprinting skills–if there is a long winding incline, practice efficiency in climbing by riding in a light gear and keeping your cadence over 80 or at a moderate to brisk pace.”

Reap The Benefits  

“Riding outside is beneficial in so many ways,” says Christine. “Besides improving your cardiovascular health, regular aerobic exercise increases blood and oxygen flow through your brain and helps improve production of serotonin and dopamine–the brain chemicals that make us feel good.” An added bonus to being outside? Taking in the fresh air and the scenery you may discover depending on where your ride takes you. Additionally, getting to know all the processes around outdoor cycling will allow you to dive a little deeper into your cycling knowledge. “Learning any new skill–like developing the understanding of how the shifting mechanisms work and how and when to use which gear–not only stimulates the brain, it also can be very empowering,” says Christine. “Coordinating this while keeping the body balanced and in the rhythmic movement pattern of pedaling further stimulates brain activity–cycling is simply incredibly healthy all around!”