By Gulab Mostofa
“The saying goes, ‘It’s just like riding a bike’ – as in once you’ve learnt to ride you never forget. But that saying isn’t really accurate, You need to spend some time getting to know your bicycle, especially if you haven’t ridden for a long time. The other thing to think about is that today’s bicycles are a lot different to the bicycles that were around when we were kids (Raleigh Choppers only looked cool, rode badly). We have a guide here about the type of bicycle you should purchase, and here about the gear you will need.
Get to know your bicycle
If you haven’t ridden for a long time, don’t cycle straight out onto the busy roads. Get to know, or reacquaint yourself with your bike at a local school ground or park where you’re off-road and there are plenty of room to to make mistakes. Get used to low speed manoeuvres, start, stopping and changing gears.
Avoid a sore backside
It can be difficult to avoid a sore backside AICC’s very own Zak has been cycling for many years, still gets a sore backside if he’s on his bike for hours at a time. “Padded shorts or Bib shorts are a must. But really, over time you just adapt to the friction and pressure and you don’t get sore any more.”
Wear decent shoes
Wear shoes that cover your entire foot and toes. If your shoes have laces, make sure they’re tightly tied and can’t loosen and get caught in your bike or wheel spokes. Once you become experienced you can move onto shoes which clip into your pedal.
When you’re cycling in traffic make sure you ride predictably. Don’t weave in and out of lanes and zip in and out between cars. When you’re turning, do a shoulder check and indicate by putting out your arm. These are all common sense things and these actions and behaviours tell the drivers of the cars around you that you are a predictable safe cyclist.
Wear a helmet
No-one can force you and it isn’t mandatory in the UK but always wear a cycle helmet and be aware of your surroundings. Observe the traffic volume, weather conditions and degree of visibility. Wear bright coloured clothing with reflective strips for visibility at night.