So it’s settled: you want to start using your bike. The thing is, you have zero city cycling experience and biking through traffic terrifies you. You don’t know how to fix a puncture and your fitness background is pretty poor. But don’t fret yet! If you’re really serious about becoming one of the many urban cyclists out there, then read on as we’ve put together some great tips for beginners. Good luck!
1. Choosing the right bike
Don’t get carried away by what looks good and start thinking about what kind of bike suits your needs best: are you going to combine cycling with public transport and don’t have much space at home? Maybe you need a fold up. Do you also want to use it to go out to the countryside on the weekend? Try a hybrid or a mountain bike. There’s a bike for every rider.
2. Gradual process
If you’ve not biked in years, you can start off in a park to get the feeling back. Next to the street, do this on a Sunday and early in the morning when there’s hardly any traffic. It’s normal if you’re fatiguing at first, so don’t overstretch yourself. Soon you’ll notice a substantial improvement in your stamina.
3. Study your routes
Forget everything you think you know about your city’s streets, cycling is different … and much more fun! For the first weeks you should try out different routes to see which is the quietest in terms of traffic as these routes will give you a lot of confidence to then eventually deal with routes with heavy traffic.
4. Swap fear for respect
Fear can really grip you but you have to let it go. That said, respect is still fundamental. By respect I mean for the power of the vehicles alongside you and that you need to be constantly alert.
Make yourself visible: signal each and every one of your movements. If you start cycling at night don’t forget to equip a front and back light. And it’s not just your safety you have to think about, but your bike’s as well! A good lock is a must once you start cycling in the city. Bike thefts are common but can be prevented with the right measures.
Learn the fundamentals. You don’t need to know anything out of the ordinary, just the basics. Things like knowing how to fix a puncture or adjust your brakes can be a necessary skill at any given time. At the very least, be aware of any repair shops in the areas you cycle through in case you have a problem you’re not able to fix.