During lockdown, the world became cycle crazy! Manufacturers haven’t been able to make bikes quick enough, the UK reported an increase of 300% in cycling commuters and if you go into any bike shop in Dubai, there are slim pickings! With the huge influx of new cyclists on the scene, along with a lot of relative inexperience, there comes the increased importance of experience to avoid mishaps.
I thought I would share with you 5 key points that will make the beginning of your cycle journey a smooth one. They are not challenging or complex but are things to be aware of to make sure you, and those around you, are safe.
Tip 1: Invest in the basic skills
When I say basic, I mean absolute basic. A lot of people are jumping on the bike after a long time out the saddle or are brand new to it, and so these basic skills may not be something you are aware of. By investing time into the basic skills of cycling, you’ll ensure crashes and getting stuck in tricky situations are less likely. So what do I mean by basic skills?
Here’s a list; starting, braking, steering, cornering, going slowly, clipping in, changing gears, looking over your shoulder and feeding on the bike.
There is also the basics of bike maintenance; fixing a puncture, adjusting your breaks, taking the front wheel off and basically understanding of how the bike works. This means you won’t get caught out in the middle of nowhere or a huge bill with your bike service.
By taking 5-10 minutes at the start of the ride to go over some of the basic skills, you’ll do yourself so much good, in terms of confidence and awareness! Check out our Start to Cycle project that will develop these skills within a group of riders of all sorts of abilities.
Tip 2: Take time to learn the ‘rules of the road’
This isn’t the road highway code. This is the rules of riding solo, or more importantly, in a group. One of the best ways to learn how to ride a bike properly is by being with people who have been riding longer than yourself and are more experienced.
Riding in a group requires a basic level of knowledge to ensure safe movement and clear communication of intentions, within a group dynamic. Take time to research hand signals and etiquette, if its the first time make sure someone knows you’re new, sit at the back of the group and just watch what happens. Don’t move into the group until you feel absolutely comfortable. If you’re new and nervous, SPEAK UP, don’t stay quiet. By vocalising your intentions to the cyclists around you, by doing so you’re keeping everyone in the loop and they trust you.
Click here to watch the IF endurance video on cycling etiquette.
Tip 3: Give yourself time
Getting fast isn’t going to happen overnight, neither are your skills, so give yourself time and set realistic goals to hit per week and per month. Mark your progress on feel and enjoyment, then as you start to develop more skill and cycling fitness, you can start to set more specific measures. Better still, reach out to a coach or a friend who’s been cycling for a while, find out what metric to focus on that will track your performance.
Tip 4: Ride in a group
Get better by riding with people better than you, sometimes you’ll get spat out the back and sometimes you’ll manage to hang on. Don’t let being dropped from the group affect your confidence, just accept it and use it to motivate you. Riding in a group is the best fun, you learn so much and are pushed harder than you might push yourself out on your own.
Reach out to a club or community to join a ride. At InnerFight Endurance, we have group rides most Fridays, with a mix of abilities. Start to Cycle group ride is on Monday mornings and is a great entry into the group environment.
Tip 5: Synchronise
This may be a bit out there, but in my opinion, looking good on the bike means you are at least 80% professional. When you look at your bike and your kit, just try and make it look synchronised. Keep it simple and keep it stylish. Have a decent sock height. Invest in the half-decent kit that will last a while and all will be well in the world. This isn’t the best bit of advice but I thought I’d save you the ridicule by gifting this advice to you. I was relentlessly mocked when I first moved to London until I fixed the error of my ways. Don’t be a Hubbard.
These are a few tips that will see you enter the world of cycling with the tools to make you a great cyclist. If you’re wanting more advice on what you should be looking for, or for more details on our Start to Cycle project, please reach out to me by email or connect with me on Instagram.
See you on the road,