Pedal power: Tips to get into cycling

Riding a bicycle is a great form of exercise, whether you ride alone or in a group.

Riding a bicycle can be a fun family activity and an excellent workout. And Connecticut, like many states, has invested in developing multi-use trails in many scenic locations. But how do you go from being a casual rider to riding for exercise? Here are some tips to help you up your cycling game.

Getting started

If you’re ready to ride, you need the right equipment. Head to a bike shop for guidance on the best bicycle for your needs. There are different sizes and styles of bicycles. The choices can overwhelm new riders. Bike shop staff members can help you find the right fit for your body and where you plan to ride. They may even offer test rides, loaner bikes, or short-term rentals.

Slow and steady

As with any form of exercise, start out slowly to safely build stamina. Don’t expect to ride several miles the first time you head out, and remember to consider the distance back to your starting point. Don’t focus on riding speed. That can increase with time and practice. Ride at a pace that works for you.

Safety check

Learn about bike safety in Connecticut and the rules of the road for cyclists. Get a new helmet that fits you well to ensure you are protected. And remember to grab front and back lights for when you ride. These help drivers see you both day and night, like daytime running lights on a car.

Keep the water flowing

Whether you’re taking a short ride or going the distance, you should always keep plenty of water on hand. Drink throughout the ride, and bring a snack in case you get stuck for longer than expected. Check out more tips for staying hydrated while riding.

Cycling has many benefits

Cycling can help support your mental and physical health. It’s been shown to:

  • Improve lung function
  • Reduce risk for illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Increase your sense of well-being

Riding a bike is something that people of all ages may be able to do. That makes it ideal for family fitness or adventures with friends.

Have fun!

Check to see if your local bike shop has weekly rides for riders of varying skill levels. Sometimes these social rides include stops at restaurants, breweries or wineries, and other local hotspots.

You can also search social media for cycling groups or meetups. And if you’re ready to take your riding further, there are plenty of charity bicycle rides in Connecticut to support local organizations and causes.

You should always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. If you need to ease your way into exercise, walking can help you get outside and get moving.

For more on Connecticut bike trails, visit:

Additional resources:

Get ready to ride!

Looking for a race? Sign up for our 2nd annual Gran Fondo on Sept. 14. The long-distance road cycling event is part of the New Haven Grand Prix Weekend, and includes three race categories: 10-mile, 31-mile, and 62-mile.
The ride starts and ends at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison. 

Learn more and register

About Neil Kelsey

Neil Kelsey is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding on roads and the extensive Rails to Trails system in Connecticut and Massachusetts. He rides with groups from a local bike shop and enjoys participating in numerous charity events, including ERRACE, CCAP, Cystic Fibrosis, and the Tour de Litchfield Hills. He is a member of the Bicycling Advisory Committee in Farmington, which helps design safe routes through town and promotes youth cycling through local schools. Neil is the Chief Actuary for ConnectiCare and helps organize the annual ConnectiCare Gran Fondo race, held in September.