Cycling 101: Beginner Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Cycling is not only a fantastic form of exercise but also a great way to explore your surroundings and connect with nature. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, it’s easy to make some common mistakes that can hinder your enjoyment and progress. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the most common beginner mistakes in cycling and provide practical tips on how to avoid them, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable riding experience.

  1. Skipping Bike Fit: One of the biggest mistakes beginners make is neglecting to get a proper bike fit. Riding a bike that isn’t adjusted to your body can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. Before hitting the road, invest in a professional bike fitting session to ensure that your bike is set up correctly for your body size and riding style. A properly fitted bike will enhance your comfort, efficiency, and overall performance.
  2. Ignoring Safety Gear: Safety should always be a top priority when cycling. Many beginners make the mistake of overlooking the importance of wearing appropriate safety gear. Always wear a properly fitted helmet to protect your head in case of falls or accidents. Additionally, invest in high-visibility clothing and reflective gear to make yourself more visible to other road users, especially when riding in low-light conditions. Don’t forget to equip your bike with lights and reflectors for added visibility.
  3. Overlooking Bike Maintenance: Regular bike maintenance is essential for keeping your bike in optimal condition and ensuring a smooth ride. Neglecting maintenance tasks such as cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting your bike can lead to mechanical issues and premature wear and tear. Get into the habit of performing basic maintenance checks before each ride, such as checking tire pressure, inspecting brakes and gears, and ensuring that all bolts are tightened properly. Regularly servicing your bike at a local bike shop will also help prevent major problems down the road.
  4. Starting Too Fast, Too Soon: Many beginners make the mistake of pushing themselves too hard and trying to tackle long distances or steep climbs right from the start. This can lead to fatigue, frustration, and burnout, making it harder to stick with cycling in the long run. Instead, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your rides as your fitness level improves. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to take breaks when needed. Setting realistic goals and tracking your progress can help you stay motivated and avoid overexertion.
  5. Poor Pedaling Technique: Proper pedaling technique is crucial for maximizing your efficiency and power output while cycling. Many beginners make the mistake of relying too much on their quads and neglecting to engage their glutes, hamstrings, and core muscles. Focus on maintaining a smooth and circular pedaling motion, applying consistent pressure throughout the entire pedal stroke. Experiment with different gears and cadences to find the most comfortable and efficient pedaling rhythm for your riding style and terrain.

Cycling is a rewarding and enjoyable activity that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. By avoiding these common beginner mistakes and following the tips outlined in this guide, you can enhance your cycling experience and make the most of your time on the bike. Remember to prioritize safety, invest in proper equipment, and listen to your body as you embark on your cycling journey. With practice and perseverance, you’ll soon be cruising confidently on two wheels, exploring new routes, and achieving your cycling goals. Happy riding!

Cycling Routes in Cape Town

Cape Town is a biker’s heaven. It is considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. From scenic mountain routes to wide open spaces surrounded by nature, there are amazing cycling routes that suit all skills and fitness levels. The city’s natural environment is abundant with single tracks, switchbacks, jeep tracks, and tarmac roads to suit everyone from the leisure cyclist to the technical rider. Some of these cycling routes are on the outskirts of the city, while others will take a bit of driving to get to. Here are some of the amazing cycling routes in Cape Town.

Table Mountain

cycling route

The Table Mountain offers some of the best and most accessible cycling and mountain biking trails in the city. The terrain in Table Mountain is often steep and unforgiving. An extensive trail network stretches from the Western Seaboard, via Signal Hill and Table Mountain right to Newlands forest and Constantia Nek. There are several access points and dozens of loops that can keep you busy for hours on end. The trails vary from exposed single track and rock gardens to gentle jeep tracks that take you through the cool shade of indigenous forest Afromontane forests. You can pick up a Table Mountain MTB map from a local bike shop, Cape Town tourism office or the Table Mountain National Park visitor center.

Signal Hill

cycling routes in cape town

Signal Hill technically falls under Table Mountain National Park. This flat-topped hill situated next to Lion’s Head has a number of mountain biking trails. There are several single and jeep track trails leading to either side of Signal Hill. Most tracks except the Big Easy are Intermediate to Expert. The Big Easy is by far the best and easiest way to access Signal Hill. The tracks are signposted and fairly easy to recognize. A trail map is also available at the gate at the top of the roller-coaster next to the monument.

Sea Point Promenade Meander

Sea Point Promenade Meander

The Sea Point Promenade is one of Cape Town’s favorite places to cycle, walk and play. This 7-kilometer scenic beach-front route is mostly paved and completely flat and is suitable for all levels of fitness. The Seapoint Promenade runs the length of Sea Point’s beachfront, from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point where it connects to Green Point Urban Park. This cycling route starts at the Up Cycles bicycle rental station and runs along the coastline, passing bustling play parks, fascinating public art, and other recreational activities. We suggest that you go slow when cycling in the early mornings and evenings as this area can be quiet busy.

Tokai Forest

tokai forest

Tokai Forest in the city’s southern suburbs is one of the most popular cycling destinations in Cape Town. There are several cycling trails through the dense forest and along exposed jeep tracks that offer something for all skill levels. Whether you are looking for a soft cycle or something more extreme, Tokai forest offers it all. All routes are mostly gravel roads, but you can choose single tracks from a number of different routes depending on your riding ability and confidence. Tokai Forest is not only popular for its amazing cycling trails, it is also popular for bird watching, hiking, and horse riding.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

chapman's peak

Chapman’s Peak is renowned as one of the most scenic marine drives in the world. It stretches from Hout Bay to Noordhoek. This picturesque 9-kilometer mountain road is winding up and down along the Atlantic Coast with 114 curves. The route can be strenuous with its many twists but it is very scenic and can be enjoyed also by amateur riders. Chapman’s Peak Drive also has numerous vantage points and picnic spots where you can enjoy fantastic views over Hout Bay.

Knowing the Different Types of Bike

Choosing the best type of bike to suit you can be a challenging task because but there are a confusingly huge and growing number of different types of bike to choose from. Your choice of bike will depend on your preferences, why are you riding, where you are going, how long will you be riding and terrain you want to ride. It is important to think of those factors before choosing a bike. To help you make a decision, here is a list of the different types of bike and the things you need to know about them.

Road Bike

Road bicycles are designed to be ridden fast on smooth pavement. These bikes rule the road due to their extreme efficiency and speed. They have lightweight frames and skinny tires designed to help the rider achieve maximum speed for minimum effort. They also have dropped handlebars that allow the rider to get into an efficient and aerodynamic riding position and gearing. Road bikes are usually lighter than other types of bicycles and are not capable of carrying heavy loads. There are a few subcategories of road bikes like sportive bikes, aero bikes, Commuter bikes, touring bikes, track bikes, and cyclocross bikes.

Mountain Bike

different types of bike

Mountain Bicycles are designed for riding rocky rough off-road and steep trails. These bikes have flat handlebars and rugged frames and components. Mountain bikes are among the most known types of bike. They usually have 26″ or 29″ wide knobby tires which allow them to be ridden in loose dirt and over obstacles. This type of bike often has a suspension to help any cyclist navigate rocky mountain trails. Mountain bikes with front suspension only are called hardtails. There are also mountain bikes with both front and rear suspension which are called full-suspension bikes. On the other hand, mountain bikes with no suspension are called rigid. Mountain bikes also have powerful brakes that use motorcycle-style discs for better control over rough ground. The gearing of mountain bikes is designed to get you up and down steep terrain, with a wide range to take on the varying gradients.

Hybrid Bikehybrid bike

Hybrids have features taken from road bikes and from mountain bikes. These bikes take the comfortable riding position of a mountain bike and pair it with a lighter frame and fast rolling wheels more like those of a road bike. Hybrids are more comfortable, better able to handle potholes and capable of tackling easier off-road tracks and trails. The tires are usually a medium-width with a semi-smooth tread, to provide a fairly smooth ride on pavement, but enough grip and cushion on unpaved trails. Hybrid bikes often use more powerful disc brakes that give a more consistent performance in wet weather. They are almost always made of aluminum for its combination of strength and low weight. Most hybrid bikes have a front suspension to smooth out small bumps, but some are fully rigid.

Triathlon/Time Trial Bike

triathlon bike

Triathlon or time trial bikes are built specifically for triathlon or time trial events. They are road bikes with a special design that maximizes their aerodynamic properties. These type of bike have forward bull-horn shaped handlebars and aero bars that allow the rider to crouch forward while riding, to minimize the wind resistance against the body. The shifters on these bikes are located at the end of the aero bars.

BMX/Trick Bike

bmx bike

BMX stands for Bicycle Motor Cross. The term BMX is used to describe any single-speed bike with a 20″ wheel. BMX Bikes are popular with kids because of their small size, but they are used by adults and kids alike for various styles of trick and stunt riding. These bikes are often very robust and durable and would be the best selection for anyone intending to do jumps or tricks. These single-speed bikes are raced around a short dirt track similar to the motorsport.

Folding Bike

folding bike

An addition to the list of the different types of bike is the folding bike. Folding bikes are ideal for those who need to travel with their bike because they fit easily in the trunk of a car, or on a boat. They are also perfect for those who live in small apartments and don’t have a lot of storage space. Folding bikes are also used by those who like to bike to work. Most folding bikes have smaller wheels, which makes the bike a little less efficient and trickier to handle than a standard bike.

Tandem Bike

tandem bike

A tandem bike is obviously a bicycle built for two. They come in many styles and are the great leveler of the cycling world. Tandems do not require any special skill to ride and can be great fun. Two riders of different abilities can enjoy a ride at the same pace when riding a tandem.


Why You Should Start Cycling

Cycling is a healthy, low-impact exercise that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from young children to older adults. It is also fun, cheap and good for the environment. Here are some of the reasons why you should start cycling.


Cycling Improves Cardiovascular Health

You get the same cardiovascular benefits from cycling that you get from any other form of aerobic exercise. During cycling, the heart beats faster than usual. This exercises the heart and promotes good health. Studies showed positive results in terms of cardiovascular function. Those who participate in activities such as cycling, walking and running improve cardiovascular function. Hence, cycling is great for your heart. Cyclists are less likely to develop high blood pressure.

Weight Loss

Cycling is an excellent exercise for burning calories. It is a good way to control or reduce weight, as it raises your metabolic rate, builds muscle and burns body fat. A person cycling with a speed of 10 mph burns 260 calories in an hour. Cycling must be combined with a healthy eating plan if you’re trying to lose weight. It is a comfortable form of exercise and you can change the time and intensity, it can be built up slowly and be varied to suit you.

Strengthens and Tones Muscles

Regular working out helps a person maintain a lean body. Cycling is an activity that involves a great deal of pedaling. It exercises not just the muscles in the front of the thighs and the buttocks but also the arms, back and the core muscles. It is actually an overall physical workout and involves the movement of almost every part of the body. Studies have shown strong evidence showing that the health of muscles is directly related to cycling. On top of it all, cycling is gentle on your joints and helps preserve cartilage.

Increase Your Brain Power

Cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus which is responsible for memory but starts to deteriorate from the age of 30. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that a five percent improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. A study conducted by Charles Hillman back in 2007 also showed that exercise boosts brain power and helps to stave off Alzheimer’s in the elderly. Cycling is said to boost blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s.


Develop Stamina

Cycling helps increase the body’s stamina and gives a boost to the endurance capacity of a person. Stamina refers to your body’s ability to endure extended periods of exercise. You can build stamina by cycling if you combine longer ride sessions with set training programs and some lifestyle changes. The aim is to make your body used to the drawing of energy for a long time without getting too fatigued.

Reduces Stress

Most scientific research has generally supported the idea that exercise helps to ease stress. Experts say that playing any kind of sport can reduce stress and helps improve your self-esteem. Bicycle riding can be taken up for reducing stress and having fun. “Cycling is one of the most effective treatments for stress and in many cases has been proven to be as effective as medication – if not more so,” said Neil Shah, of the Stress Management Society.

Improves Your Sex Life

According to health experts in the US, being more physically active like cycling improves your vascular health, which has the knock-on effect of boosting your sex drive. A study from Cornell University also concluded that male athletes have the sexual prowess of men two to five years younger, with physically fit females delaying the menopause by a similar amount of time.

Grow Your Social Circle

Cycling is an incredibly sociable sport. Joining a cycling club or group is an excellent way to grow your social circle, and you’ll probably find all the maintenance and training advice you may have been looking for there. Plus, you meet new people and develop friendships with people whom you share a common interest.