By MCC

Spectators may be inspired by the stamina and agility of cyclists who compete each year during the Tour de France. The race was first organized in 1903 and has been held annually since its inception. The Tour de France is a multiple-stage bicycle race that primarily cuts through areas of France while also passing through nearby countries. The race features 21 stages over the course of roughly three weeks.

Professional cyclists spend years honing their skills to compete in the Tour de France and other cycling competitions. However, anyone can improve their cycling abilities with a little practice.

Research conducted by Breakaway Research Group for People for Bikes found that roughly 100 million Americans ride a bike each year, but only about 14 million bike at least twice a week. Improving basic skills may serve as a catalyst to getting out and enjoying cycling even more.

• Invest in a custom bike fitting. Just about anything can be bought online nowadays, but a bicycle may be one thing to purchase in person. Having a professional at a bicycle shop measure and fit your dimensions ensures you are getting the right size bike for your needs. Correct fit can alleviate pain, help riders avoid injury and make cycling more enjoyable.

• Set saddle height correctly. The right saddle height can lead to greater comfort and pedaling ability and muscular efficiency. The resource Bike Radar says to adust the saddle height so that the saddle-to-pedal distance is 1.09 X the measurement of the inside of the rider’s leg. Otherwise, aim for a suggested knee angle of 25 to 35 degrees with the pedal at the bottom of the stroke. If the saddle is too low (feet can touch the ground while the bike is upright), riders may become fatigued shortly after beginning a ride.

• Employ proper braking. It’s good practice to always use both brakes on the bike (front and rear) when coming to a stop. This is achieved by keeping both hands on the brake hoods or in the drops so that the brake levers are easily grabbed when needed.

• Practice balance in different scenarios. Many people can balance on a bike to get around. But when faced with traffic, road obstacles or different ground conditions, balance can be tricky. According to the experts behind the MyFitnessPal app, practice balancing by looking up at the road instead of down at the ground. A low center of gravity, which can be achieved by leaning lower on the handlebars, can make balancing easier as riders steer around turns.

• Use the gears to assist. Hills can be cumbersome for those who do not know how to properly shift. Novice cyclists can request a demonstration on shifting at the bike shop where they purchase their bikes. With many bikes, the front derailleur gears provide large jumps in gears, while the rear derailleur allows for incremental fine-tuning. Experimenting with shifting gears based on your style of bike will make traversing hills or riding long distances easier.

Cyclists also can practice pushing and pulling while pedaling to use all of their leg muscles and pedal more efficiently. These biking skills can improve riders’ technique and make cycling more enjoyable.

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