Beginner's guide

“Cycling” is a term that covers a broad range of activities, but since you’ve come to our website, hopefully we are correct in assuming that you’re looking for information mainly about road cycling and its associated disciplines.

With various bikes, events and organisations available, cycle sport can cater for pretty much everyone. Sunday mornings can be a gentle spin to a cafe or a lactic acid inducing road race; it really is up to you! Should you be a lady or a gentleman, young or old, partially sighted or physically disabled, there will be something within cycling’s remit for you to fall in love with.

If you get involved in the sport, it will quickly become clear that, whilst a competitive frame of mind will always be encouraged, it is but one aspect of cycling. However, whatever you choose to do and whatever level you're at, you should be aware that cycling has a tendency to become an obsession that lasts a lifetime!

Types of Cycle Sport

Possibly lots of new terminology, but please check out our other pages for more information on kinds of riding that you might be interested in; [Group Riding], [Sportives], road racingtime triallingAudax and cyclocross. The most important thing with riding a bike is that you enjoy it, so we recommend having a go at everything if and when you get the chance.

Bikes, Equipment and Kit

You don’t have to spend a fortune on a bike and other kit to get into cycling. Bikes have had years of development and now even the modestly priced options tend to be very good. The most important considerations are that any bike is safe and properly fitting. A good bike shop should be able to answer any questions you have and will often swap components to get your bike just right. The shiniest machines will soon be objects of your desires, but you won’t be held back from starting out on something more basic. Lots of cyclists end up with another bike eventually and the original steed gets relegated to “Winter Bike” status, so looking for something suitable (mounts and clearance for mudguards and larger tyres) may well be a good idea.

Riding with us, a standard road bike with drop handlebars and “skinny” (we promise they have more grip than you think!) tyres will be sufficient. They’ll also work for commuting, sportives or audax events, road races and time trials. Cycle to work schemes are now commonplace and it’s worth enquiring about to save some money and pay with instalments.

Usually on a club ride, there will be someone to help you out if you have any problem, but it’s a good idea to have these with you so that you can be self-sufficient;

  •          Spare inner tube, sized for your tyres, tyre lever and mini pump
  •          Small multi-tool
  •          Water bottle and cages (on the bike)
  •          Some food; cereal bars or energy bars/gels
  •          Phone/ID/cash for emergencies and the latter also for café stops which are of primary importance! Stopping for pictures is also nice when the weather behaves

All of that should fit into the pockets on the back of a cycling jersey, but a small saddle bag can add some extra capacity.

Clothing and kit has developed massively in the last few years, with fabrics and fits to suit every need and type of weather. A few good quality garments can make all the difference to your comfort, so it’s well worth the investment. North Road has [Club Kit] manufactured by Giordana, which is of excellent quality and looks great, but we won’t insist that you wear our kit right from the off. Most importantly, get a properly fitting and good quality helmet. Not a legal requirement, but highly recommended. Then a good pair of padded cycling shorts, preferably with a bib strap, more comfortable than a waist band on the bike. Next up is a jersey, with a full-length zip to control temperature and pockets on the back, for carrying riding essentials.

Gloves prevent blisters in summer and freezing hands in winter. Thermal tights and a jacket will be required for winter too, although don’t feel the need to rush out and buy an entire wardrobe. Once you have the basics you’ll get a good idea of what else you need. Footwear is also important, with cycling shoes offering a stiff sole that is good for power transfer and supporting your feet so that the muscles don’t have to remain tensed all day. “Clipless Pedals” will sound daunting, but quickly become second nature, although if you have any pain, get the setup checked out without delay.

Fitness and Training

Cycling can vary from a relatively easy sport to one of the toughest in the world and your level of fitness will be somewhere on a sliding scale. Starting out, the best way to improve your fitness is just to ride your bike as much as possible. You’ll soon find yourself improving, then you can set some goals should you wish. There are countless resources available if you want to get some training tips, but not everything will necessarily work for you, so it is a good idea to find a couple of things at a time to experiment with. Perhaps most importantly with regard to training, have fun! At least for the time being, for you’ll miss the enjoyable rides if you decide to start racing and end up hammering away on the turbo trainer for hours in a never-ending quest for speed!


The social side of cycling has been a big part of it throughout its history. North Road CC prides itself on being a friendly club and we hold a lot of social events through the year, many of them also linked to a bit of competition with the races we promote. We have an annual Dinner and Dance late in the year and our weekly club runs are all about just having a chat and getting a coffee and some cake with your friends.

Getting Started

Once you’re kitted up, feel free to either turn up at one of our [Club Runs] or contact us to have a chat about whether you feel like you’ll be up to it. You’ll be made very welcome when you arrive and whilst the pace varies from week to week, you don’t have to worry, as we’ll never ride off and leave you. It is a good idea to get out on the bike enough that you feel comfortable controlling it, as riding with a group will add another element to get used to if you’re really new to cycling. Don’t hesitate to ask should you have any questions, there will usually be somebody around who can answer them.

We look forward to meeting you!

Membership Form

Apply to join the club.

Application form

Club Runs

Taking up or returning to cycling?

Join us on a Sunday club run.

We meet from 9:20am on Sunday mornings at Highway Cycles, Hartham Lane, Hertford SG14 1QN, by the coffee kiosk. Rides get underway from 9.40am, and are usually between 20 and 40 miles to a cafe and back.

There's more info in our Club Runs page,

Group Riding

If you're new to riding in a group, read our handy guide on how to stay safe.