Cycling may look like nothing more than hopping on your bike and pedalling, but if you’re new to cycling or you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, you might be daunted by the prospect of getting started. The good news is that once you set off on your first ride, you’ll be hooked by the freedom and enjoyment cycling offers. Here are some tips to help you ride with confidence.
Check Your Bike is Set Up Correctly
You can’t get started without a set of wheels, so the first step to cycling is to prepare your bike. Whether you’re buying a new bike or you’re using one you’ve had for a while, you should check that it’s set up properly and is comfortable for you to use. The simplest maintenance task, yet one of the most important, is to pump up your tyres to the right pressure for the conditions you’ll be riding on. For example, if you’ll be cycling on damp or slippery ground, lessen the amount of pressure, whereas you’ll want tyres to be full for drier surfaces for greater efficiency and speed.
Likewise, make sure the saddle is set to the right height for your needs – too low and you’ll find it difficult to pedal properly, while too high could cause an injury. When the seat is set to the ideal position, you should have a slight bend in your knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Make Sure You Have the Necessary Gear
Once your bike is set up properly, you need to gather the essential accessories you’ll need to stay safe on the road. A helmet is the most important and even if you have one that’s been stashed away for years, it’s a good idea to get a new one. Helmets have a shelf life and the protection they provide can decrease over time, so it’s better to invest in a new helmet that will provide better security. Depending on how much you plan on riding, you may also want to invest in cycle-friendly wicking clothing that will keep you cool and dry when you’re out and about.
Be Confident on the Road
When you’re out on the road, it’s important not to tuck yourself away to the side of the road, as close to the kerb as possible. Many riders think this is the safest way to cycle but it can actually cause visibility issues where drivers are concerned. Take a confident approach when you’re cycling along roads and ride around 1 metre from the kerb, so that others on the road can see you clearly.
There’s more to staying safe than just wearing a helmet – the roads can be dangerous, especially for cyclists, so you don’t want to take anything for granted. Cyclists should avoid wearing headphones or earbuds, as these can hinder your ability to listen out for oncoming traffic, and always carry your phone, some cash and a form of ID when you travel in case of emergencies.
The pandemic has led to an increase in the number of people cycling as a hobby or a way to exercise and get some fresh air, so if you’re keen to join the cycling community, it’s crucial that you abide by local traffic laws and that you stay aware of your surroundings to avoid an accident.
Join a Cycling Group
Cycling is a great solo activity but it’s also an incredibly social sport that you can take advantage of if you’re keen to meet new people. For many people, joining a community of like-minded people is one of the perks of getting involved with a new sport or activity. Meet-ups are a brilliant way to stay motivated and keep up with your new habit, plus many of the people in cycling groups are extremely knowledgeable so you can learn from them and ask them any questions you might have.
There are many reasons why people take up cycling, from needing a way to keep fit to the love of outdoor pursuits or the social aspect of the sport. With more and more people wanting to get involved with cycling, there’s never been a better time to get involved and enjoy the many benefits that come with getting on a bike and exploring your surroundings.