Many people start riding while they are locked down. Cycling can seem a bit daunting if you don’t ride regularly, but with a little experience and advice, new riders will soon feel confident on their bikes. Here are some useful tips to help you on your way to a successful cycling life.
Before you set off
Get your tyres inflated to the right pressure
Probably the easiest part of bike maintenance is inflating your tyres to the right pressure. What is the right pressure? It’s simple too – it’s written on the sidewall of the tyre, just look at it and you’ll know.
You’ll notice that tyre manufacturers have a recommended range, rather than an absolute pressure. This is so that you can adapt the tyre pressure to the conditions.
If you’re going somewhere where it might be wet and slippery, don’t over-inflate your tyres. If the weather is dry and you want to ride as efficiently as possible, pump your tyres full.
Get the right saddle height and riding position
Too low a saddle makes it difficult to use your full pedal range and leg strength; too high a saddle makes you nervous and can lead to injury. Ideally, you should set the saddle height so that you have a very slight knee bend at the knee when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Then adjust your position on the bike as well. A very simple rule of thumb is that you want the handlebars to obscure the view of the front hub when you assume a typical riding position.
Cycling shouldn’t be painful, so if you start to experience back pain or other discomfort, visit your local bike shop to see if they can help you adjust your position.
Dress for the conditions
There’s no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes” is an old saying in cycling, and most of the time it’s true. The weather can change quickly, so learn to dress in different layers so you can cool down or warm up quickly. When it’s cold or hot in the summer, it can be hard to know what to wear on your bike.
Advice for Things to bring
Water and food
There’s no worse feeling on the bike than being dehydrated or completely out of energy, so bring fluids and some bike rations. Snacks like bananas, pancakes or jelly bars (for a quick sugar boost) will help you fill up.
If you’re going for a long ride, scientifically formulated products like electrolyte drinks and protein bars can help you avoid cramps or other problems mid-ride and get the most out of your efforts.
New riders often think they need a hugely padded saddle to protect their backside, but that’s not really the case. A good pair of padded cycling shorts will give you enough comfort to survive the first ride, and you can increase your time and distance as much as your tolerance allows. Don’t wear underwear under padded shorts, as it can chafe and give you sores in the saddle.
Riding gloves and mittens
One thing that new riders often don’t think about is their hands. These hands can get tired quickly, so a good pair of padded gloves or mittens will do wonders.
Bring a lock and a light just in case
Even if you’re only going to be out for an hour or two, if there’s a chance you’ll be delayed until after dusk, you should mount a set of lights on your bike.
Also carry a lock, which is handy for unplanned stops in a shop or café. Don’t rely on your bike being safe, even if you leave it unattended for just a few moments.
Carry a saddlebag with tools, spare parts and cash.
Keeping a selection of tools and extra inner tubes in your saddlebag(s) will help you deal with common problems on the go. A multi-tool kit with a variety of tools will allow you to adjust most mechanical parts; a chain tool will help you put a broken chain back together; you’ll also need some tire levers, a puncture/spare tire repair kit and a mini pump.
We also think it’s a good idea to have some cash and cards for emergencies.