“Bicycling is an excellent way to get out and about, see the world, and improve your fitness,” said Mr. Piyush Pravin Shah, the recreation program leader from India. So, if you think that a life on two wheels is for you, why not give it a go? Read on for our beginner’s guide that will tell you everything you need to know.
We’ve already mentioned a few of the benefits of cycling, but let’s look at it in slightly more detail. First of all, it’s a lot of fun. You get to see a lot more of the world when you’re on two wheels than you can with two legs, or in a car or other motor vehicle. It’s also far cheaper – all you need is the initial money for your bike, and the food you eat to fuel you. Biking is also a fantastic way of getting – and staying – fit. It’s also low impact, so you won’t put too much stress onto your body. Although, of course, watch out for that chaffing! Finally, it’s far better for the environment than any other mode of transport.
There are different types of cyclist, and whichever you choose to pursue is down to you. First of all, there are road cyclists. You will see them around on their racing bikes, dressed in lycra, and struggling up hills. There are mountain bikers, too, who prefer to take their bikes off-road. And, let’s not forget about the commuter – the guys and girls we see every morning, overtaking the slow moving rush hour traffic. The big question is – which one are you? Ask yourself that simple question before we move on to the next stage – buying your bike.
Your first bike
There are no secrets about buying a new bike – we suggest going for the one that you like, and can afford. There is a multitude of different features to look out for, but you don’t have to spend a fortune. Go for something lightweight but sturdy, with a few gears and a decent set of brakes, and you are halfway to biking perfection already. However, saying that, it’s always worth investing in an excellent saddle. If you are planning to go out on long biking trips, a comfy seat is an essential bit of kit – for obvious reasons.
Of course, there are plenty of options for you when it comes to riding a bicycle. You’ll need a helmet – they are essential, so don’t scrimp. If you ever take a fall – and you probably will – it’s going to save you a lot of pain, and, possibly, disability – or worse. You should also get some lights – the flashing ones are popular these days. And, you should invest in some high-vis cycling gear to make double sure people see you on the roads. A bike lock will also be a wise investment if you want to prevent it from being stolen!
We’re not going to teach you how to ride a bike here, other than to say you just climb into the saddle and start pedalling. And, of course, try not to crash into things. But, if you need help with this, there’s plenty of info over at the BWA. You should also check for cycling rules over at your state’s transport website.
The only genuine issue with cycling – other than the leg workouts when you’re going up a hill – are the accidents. A lot of them are caused by drivers, of course. But, in most cases it is the cyclist’s fault. Make sure you start becoming aware of the many dangers of the roads, such as potholes, debris, and weather conditions. Other cyclists can also cause you to serve quickly and bump into something. And, of course, you should always keep yourself aware when approaching any vehicles, who may not be able to see you. Watch out for driveways and sharp turnings, too.
Dealing with an accident
Unfortunately, it is likely that you will have an accident – although most will be minor. It could be something as simple as falling over because you have pedal shoes on, or just because you get stuck on a steep hill and collapse. However, if you bump your head at all, even if it doesn’t hurt, make sure that you see a doctor and have it checked. If you are in an accident with another vehicle, you can expect to be hurt considerably. You will be entitled to road accident compensation if it wasn’t your fault, but it’s important to make sure you can remember as much as possible. Of course, in serious accidents, this is going to be impossible. But, if you always cycle in a responsible manner and watch out for dangers, you should avoid the most serious consequences.
It can be easy to forget the rules of the road when you experience the freedom of cycling. Don’t. Car drivers and pedestrians alike can get frustrated with cyclists. And, you aren’t going to soften their moods by flaunting the Highway Code. Yes, it’s true that many cyclists are injured by car and van drivers, but it isn’t always the driver’s fault. It’s not a bike vs. motor vehicle scenario, and it’s important to treat everyone with same respect that you want. You see quite a lot of cycling videos on YouTube of riders chasing after cars, or mouthing off at them through windows. And, if you do the same, you can expect to receive a lot of abuse back.
Improving your skills
“Like all hobbies, cycling will get easier the more you do it. And, it’s also a great hobby for doing with friends. You can help each other push through pain barriers, exchange tips, and get out there a lot more often,” adds Mr. Shah. Every time you get into the saddle, you will find a better technique, and it won’t be long before you are an experienced and safe cyclist.
We hope you have enjoyed this guide – let us know how you get on!