Video Editor: Ashish Maccune
Camera: Athar Rather
A record-matching 17 times in the Tour de France and record five-time winner of the Criterium International, German pro biker Jens Voigt has been biking for 33 years. On his maiden trip to India, Voigt had five tips for beginners planning to take up cycling.
1. Right Posture
You don’t want your handlebar too low compared to your seat. You should have the handlebar almost at the same height so it’s more comfortable for you. When you’re on the bike and you put the pedal down, your heel should be just able to reach it with a stretched leg. That is the right seat height.
2. Good Warm-Up
A little bit of stretching is always a good thing. You can use your bike to balance yourself. Stretch your calf muscle – place your foot flat on the ground, extend one leg at the back, slightly bend the other knee and further you move your hip forward the more stretch you feel in your calf. To stretch your upper leg, bend, hold one leg at the back and pull. The harder you pull, the more stretch you feel. To stretch your back, bend forward, keep your knees straight and touch your feet. And since the back is bent forward while cycling you also want to bend backwards and stretch. For the upper part of your body, extend your arm out and turn your upper body towards the back. Do that on both sides. Then you’re good to go. You loosen up the body a little bit and warm it up a little bit. That helps prevent cramping and keeps you from getting fatigued too early. It gets you ready to go.
3. Stay Hydrated
India is a warm country and there’s a lot of sunshine so you need to drink, drink, drink. You should have at least a litre of water per hour. If you can have more it’s better, but half a litre every 30 minutes or a litre every hour that should be the minimum you should have. If you have more, it’s better.
4. How Often?
You shouldn’t go out everyday because you want to get into it slowly. So let’s say every third day and then you go out every second day. That should be enough if you just want to stay fit and healthy, maybe sweat off a little weight, that should be enough for you. If you have more ambitions, then yes we talk about daily training. That is if you want a license and want to start participating in races or you want to participate in some more serious events where you then covered 100, 200 km every day. That needs more training. Listen to your body. If your body says ‘I’m really tired’ then don’t force yourself. If your body says ‘I really want to go out get fresh air and burn some calories’ then go out. If you feel one hour, do one hour. If you feel like 20 minutes, start with 20 minutes. Because the worst will be that you get frustrated within the first week and never touch your bike again. So go easily and step by step build it up.
5. Ride Safe
Always, always, always wear a helmet. As simple as it sounds, you only have one head so you better protect it. Head injuries can almost always be prevented or avoided by wearing a helmet. Don’t shy away from spending money on a good quality helmet because your life literally depends on it. Second, have some lights on your bike. They make you more visible. You use the lights during the day as well. Do not, in any circumstance, ride on the other side of the road. Follow the rules because in case of a problem, the bike rider always loses. We do not have any protection around us. So if something happens, it’s you who pays the price.
A Final Word...
You can ride alone, it’s good training, but find a group. Cycling has something for everyone. It’s a really social sport and it’s much more fun and enjoyable if you bring a few friends along.
(This article was first published on 25 March, 2018, and is being reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of World Bicycle Day)