Getting started with pedaling for fitness

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image Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.

Thinking of trying cycling? Bicycle racing can provide an outlet for that competitive energy while providing a great focus for training, developing technical skills and a fun way to spend your free time.

imageMuch more significant factors than raw speed or power in cycling are talent (tactical skills) and the ability to rapidly accelerate, tolerate pain and function anaerobically for relatively long periods of time. Genetics also come into play. Hill climbing ability is highly correlated to body weight and thus favors smaller riders.

Sprinters tend to be larger of stature and capable of working above lactate threshold for long periods of time.

Although genetic factors cannot be discounted, they won’t prevent you from becoming a good all around rider and kicking a little butt at some hometown races.

Finding the right club and the right fit is an important step to taking on cycling. Many clubs are sponsored by local bike shops. Stop by and talk to the owner and staff.

Once you identify some options for groups, spend some time talking riders in them. Give them a test run by joining one or several of their training rides.

How do the club members make you feel? Do they provide a competitive yet supportive environment? But don’t get too comfortable. You want to surround yourself with riders who, while supportive, will guide and push you to greater skill levels.

Race clubs are great for learning the ropes from more skilled and experienced riders. Those riders should be skilled enough to point out your weak areas and suggest routes to improvement in an encouraging fashion.

Don’t hesitate to shop around. You’ll soon find a club that feels right.

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