Riding for Fun and Health

Riding for Fun and Health

by Susan Neuhalfen

For those asking what it takes to start biking seriously, or even casually, Josh Kerkhof, Manager at Cadence Cyclery, has some great advice.

“The first question I ask a client is ‘What is your goal?’ said Josh, who spent five years racing on the U.S. National Cycling Team. “Is it weight loss? Is it mountain or road biking? Training for a triathlon or just riding with the family?”

Armed with that information, he can start helping the customer find exactly the right bike. More importantly, he will begin the measurement process, which Josh claims is most vital to any customer’s long-term commitment to biking.

Cadence Cyclery has a very intricate measuring machine. Over a two-hour process, the customer sits on a bike where everything is measured from the frame to the seat to make sure it’s aligned for the best fit.

“If you don’t get the right fit you’ll have trouble with your neck, back or knees,” said Josh. “You should have your bike fit at a shop because if the saddle (seat) is in the wrong position, you’ll have pain and you won’t want to ride again.”

Other important factors include gear such as:

Helmets: Obviously, for safety reasons, get a good helmet.

Shorts: Though it would seem the cushion is for comfort, the most important quality is that it keeps the moisture out and releases it into the air, keeping the rider dry and comfortable.

Socks: Bike socks are also designed to keep the moisture out. Cotton socks are not a good alternative and they retain moisture.

Shoes: The shoes and cleats are sold separately. They should be purchased together along with clipless pedals if you choose to upgrade to those. Clipless pedals have a mechanism that attaches to the cleat of the shoe which eliminates straps (and the risk of injury is reduced as well).

Gloves: Gel inserts on the palm of the glove are good, especially for beginners.

Eyewear: Make sure they have shatterproof lenses and plastic frames that bend, not break.

Water bottle cages: A must to put on the bike. You should keep hydration with you at all times.

Nutrition: A biker should eat every 45 minutes, not necessarily anything big just something healthy in the system.

When asked about the physical constraints or attributes of riding, Josh loves to relay a story that happened at another shop in Texas. He had a man come in who was 450 lbs. He wanted to ride so they measured him and fit him to a bike. He broke a few parts on a few different occasions, but they would fix the bike and send him back out. He kept riding. Today he’s 215 lbs. and a competitive racer. In fact, he spent so much time educating himself on riding and coming into the shop, they ended up hiring him at that bike shop.

Biking is a great way to get to exactly where you’re going. Whether your goal is weight loss, racing or just to have fun with friends and family, it’s easier on your joints than running and other forms of exercise. Above all, make sure the bike and its components are fit to you. Do it right from the start and make the investment in your health.


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