Road Cycling: Not Just for Professionals Anymore

How to Start Training on a Road Bike

Road cycling, once considered exclusive to professionals, is now increasingly chosen by amateurs for its beauty and nobility. This sport trains the entire body, helps maintain health and attractive physical appearance. Furthermore, it's a status sport that can bring you into an attractive social circle, new friends, and business partners.
Training should begin by finding a good coach who can set the right riding technique. It's often easier to teach proper riding from scratch than to correct the technique of self-taught riders

Aleksandr Grigorev

Perfomance Director

Choosing a Cycling Club

If you've decided to take up road cycling, the best way to start is by finding a suitable cycling club. When choosing a club, consider not just the location, but also reviews, coaching staff, participant results, and the range of services offered.

For example, at Portugal Cycling Academy (PCA), there are not only strong mentors and students, but also numerous well-researched locations where you can safely master the skills of road cycling in Portugal.

After choosing a club, arrange your first training session. If necessary, the PCA coach can help you rent a bike and gear for the first lesson. Later, you can buy a bike and accessories based on their recommendations: it's better to choose them personalized to fit your parameters.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Bike

Selecting a bike is very important. The specialty of a road bike is that it's designed for high-speed riding on smooth roads, like asphalt tracks. High speeds are achieved thanks to a lightweight frame, absence of shock absorbers, aerodynamic wheels, a curved handlebar, and other distinctive details.

Note that you can buy a bike for the first season on classified sites or on special bicycle forums where used bikes are sold. Be cautious when buying second-hand bikes, making sure the actual owner is selling it, checking reviews of the seller, asking for receipts, and inquiring about the bike's condition and maintenance. A good seller is ready to provide a detailed analysis of the bike and an honest report on its condition and potential issues. On these sites, you can also buy cycling kits, accessories, and other necessary items for cyclists, which we will discuss next.
Choosing the right road bike is crucial for beginners as it ensures a comfortable fit, prevents injuries, enhances riding efficiency, and provides a better overall cycling experience.

Must-Have Training Equipment

Of course, you need to prepare and purchase everything necessary.
Cycling kit is a crucial part of cycling gear. Quality sportswear provides ventilation and cooling, wicks moisture, and creates aerodynamics due to its tight fit. Cycling bib shorts are usually made of Lycra with high stretchability. The foam layer in the bib shorts protects the skin from sweat-induced irritation and cushions saddle shocks. There are both women's and men's cycling bib shorts. Cycling clothing ensures comfort, convenience, and safety during training and competitions. PCA has its own bright, ergonomic, high-quality Portugal-made cycling kit. Popular brands create cycling clothing based on feedback from professional cyclists from technological materials that mimic a "second skin" in wear.
Cycling shoes for road cycling are lightweight with very stiff soles for maximum pedaling efficiency. More affordable models have soles made of composite material, while more expensive ones use carbon. Cleats on the sole allow the cyclist to clip into contact pedals. Popular cycling shoe brands include Specialized, Shimano, FIZIK, etc.
A repair kit for the road is recommended, including patches and glue necessary to patch a tire puncture. Keep a set of tools and chain oil at home. If you train with Portugal Cycling Academy, you don't have to worry about this: a mechanic is in the club, and rides are accompanied by a support vehicle.
Riding a bike is like falling in love - you never forget your first time.
  • A helmet should be lightweight, well-ventilated, fit properly, and cover the temporal areas of the head. Popular brands include KASK, Specialized, and others.
  • Accessories like glasses protect from sunlight, dust, rain, wind, splashes, dirt, and insects. Cycling gloves are necessary to reduce pressure on the hands and for maximum grip. A heart rate monitor allows you to control your heart rate during training. A cycling computer shows important travel information like speed, mileage, travel time, average speed, maximum speed, temperature, pressure, cadence, pedal rotation frequency, etc. More advanced models are equipped with a navigator and can assess the route's difficulty.
  • Sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is essential. Apply it to open body areas and the face in any weather.
  • A flashlight and reflective elements are needed for evening training and when riding on roads.
  • Food and drinks like bars and gels – nuts, fruit, or sports high-carbohydrate snacks, water, or isotonic drinks are important.
  • Winter gear is necessary if you plan to train in winter. Thermal underwear, a second layer of fleece, warmers for arms and legs, a vest or windbreaker made of membrane fabric, winter cycling shoes with a membrane or special shoe covers, and balaclavas are needed. The back of the jersey, vest, or jacket should cover the lower back of the rider while sitting.

Remember, if the thermometer shows below 8°C, it's better not to go out for winter cycling training; train on an indoor trainer, like Wahoo Kikr or something else.
4 tips for Beginners
  1. Start with individual training but gradually transition to group riding. Group riding increases average speed due to motivation not to fall behind other cyclists and thanks to the drafting effect in the peloton. Drafting is a technique of group movement of athletes where participants move one after another, reducing their energy costs to overcome environmental resistance by 10 to 40% (depending on the group position). Group training with a coach is necessary to learn the proper tactics of using the drafting effect.
  2. Prepare your bike in advance: lubricate the chain, inflate the tires, check the brakes and gear shifting. Do this yourself or with the help of specialists (for example, a mechanic is always available at the PCA club to help with all technical questions).
  3. Eat well before starting training. Pasta or something with carbs.
  4. Communicate with like-minded people interested in road cycling. This way, a supportive community will form around you, with new friends and business partners emerging. The simplest and most logical way to do this is to come to a cycling club in your city. Clubs have different groups united by skill level and experience, and as you progress in cycling, you will move to more professional groups and start participating in races as part of your club.
Inability to ride in a group creates dangerous situations on the road, so this skill must be practiced with a coach and other members of the cycling club.

Aleksandr Grigorev

Perfomance Director
If you live in Lisbon, Cascais, and Torres Vedras, we will be happy to see you at Portugal Cycling Academy
Dec. 7 / 2023
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