Last year, inspired by the Olympics, I joined a cycling club and found that it was a great way to keep fit and it was really fun. I’ve compiled some useful advice for people who are thinking about starting cycling on the road or in the countryside.
20 tips for new cyclists:
1) Helmets: Wear one.
2) Handbags: Don’t wear these. The strap will get entangled in your chain. This is extremely annoying. If you are carrying enough things that you need a handbag to go cycling, you are carrying too many things.
3) Backpacks: Ditto. Also, you will feel like a tortoise. On that note…
4) Cycling jerseys: These are great because they have pockets on the back which are super convenient. They also look awesome. Buy at least eighty in different colours.
5) Hair: Tie it up in a ponytail or in plaits. You will be more comfortable and your hair will not fly around. As a bonus you will look more like Laura Trott. If you have a fringe, clip it up. Trust me, a rouge fringe can be really dangerous. It will obscure your vision.
6) If you have a vision problem: Wear your vision correction. Even if it looks stupid in combination with a helmet.
7) Shoes: Trainers are fine if you’re a beginner. Stay away from anything you would wear on a night out. (aka. don’t wear high heels)
8) Gears: These are your friends: Lean on them when you’re not strong: they will urge you on. And you can use them ruthlessly.
9) Road bikes: Once you try one, you won’t ever want to go back to side handlebars. This is a fact. Deal with it.
10) Indication: If you can’t indicate yet, cycle close to somebody who can. (But make sure they are going in the same direction as you).
11) Clubs: These can be your rock (of the metaphorical, not obstructive kind). They are brilliant and supportive communities who will keep you going and boost your confidence. And lie about how many hills are left.
12) Punctures: These are inevitable. Roads are not built for cyclists. They have cracks. These are not good for your wheels – avoid cycling over them.
13) Buses: If you have a puncture, you will not be allowed to take your bike on a bus. Plan for this.
14) Cycle lanes: These are smoother than the road. When possible, cycle on them. However, remember that car drivers are selfish and will inevitably park on cycle lanes. Look where you’re going.
15) Breakfast: Eat it. And enough to sustain you throughout your ride. It will be more than you think.
16) Water: Take some with you.
17) Safety: Make sure you know the rules of the road. When a vehicle is crossing over your path, make eye-contact with the driver and continue on. However, use your common sense. Vehicles are bigger and stronger than you on your bike. Take care.
18) Lights: When cycling in the dark, use lights. When there is no dark, do not use lights. This is common sense.
19) Vans: These are not your friends. Do not cycle directly in front or behind them. They will bite you in the back.
20) On your first couple of rides you will frequently scream through breaths alternate to pants, things like ‘ARRGGGHHH, I’VE HIT THE WAAAALLLLLLLLL’ and ‘WHY WOULD ANYBODY EVER DO THIS TO THEMSELVES???’ After a while, your legs will hurt. The countryside landscapes will always be worth the effort. They are beautiful. And cycling is the best way to enjoy them.
Jennifer Lack is a 16 year old Londoner with dreams of writing. She is a self-professed fervent Harry Potter fan and cycling convert who spends way too much time attending BBC radio recordings, reading good fiction and listening to Paramore. When she is older, she wishes to be an amalgamation of Sylvia Plath, Sirius Black and Caitlin Moran. You can follow her alter-ego on Twitter.
Featured Image via Shutterstock.