I have always loved the idea of being a bad-ass biker, so I though a push bike was good start! I have now been cycling in London for a couple of months and have learned many lessons, which I thought I would share;
1) Spend time finding the right bike
After spending a week in Amsterdam I returned with a love for big beach cruising bikes, I purchase one on eBay which was as close as I could get to a Harley Davison without an engine. BIG mistake. It was wide, heavy and unusable in London. Take two, I asked advice from cycling friends and after much debate went with a Raleigh, which not only looks pretty cool but also does the job perfectly.
2) Find a route you are comfortable with
It might not be the quickest or slickest but at least you will enjoy your ride.
3) Look over you shoulder before you make a move
Lots of short sharp looks over your shoulder makes you see what is behind you whilst staying aware of what is in front.
4) If you are going to wear headphones, wear it in your left ear
I can’t go anywhere without music but it is super important when cycling to be aware of your surroundings especially if there is a car creeping up behind you. You’re more often going to be looking over your right shoulder when cycling on the left, so keep your right ear clear.
5) Always Signal
To let people know where you are going.
6) If you feel uncomfortable get off your bike
It’s not a failure to keep yourself safe.
7) Take a practice ride
If you are planning on cycling during the week take your bike out at a quieter time and practice your route, so come Monday morning you will feel more confident about your first cycling commute.
8) Follow a friend
If you are a little nervous ask one of your experienced friends if you can go out with them.
9) Stay safe
People will speed past you and make risky moves, only do what you are comfortable with.
10) Make mini challenges
Though safety is priority, I always like to strive for improvement. I have Strava which tracks my routes and speeds so I can see that I am getting better or where I could improve.
11) Pedestrians come first
It can be annoying getting stuck behind pedestrians, but on a tow-path, park or pavement you are in their territory.
12) If in doubt on the road, act like a car
Sometimes it feels a little tight on the road so instead of getting squished put yourself in the centre of the lane so cars know exactly where you are.
13) Have a bell, and ring it!
People are completely unobservant and also cannot walk in a straight line, so let them know that you are coming though.
14) Everyone hates each other
Cyclists hate pedestrians and vehicles, pedestrians hate vehicles and cyclists, vehicles hate cyclists and pedestrians.
15) Stay focussed
There is so much going on around you that there is no time to relax because as soon as you do a dog, cat, van or human will pop out of nowhere.
16) Use lights if cycling at night
If people or vehicles can’t see you, then they can’t avoid you.
17) Remember it’s your ride – enjoy it
Don’t feel pressured by other people to go beyond your ability or break the rules.
There have been mishaps that have made me want to throw my bike (or other people) into the canal; a man jumped out in front of me as a ‘joke’, a van who I still don’t think saw me almost ran me over, a couple of drivers have screamed abuse out of their window and cyclists have called me a bitch, twat and idiot for stopping at a red light.
Despite all the aggravation, there is no way I am giving up my bike anytime soon, it is so much better than cramming into the sweaty tube and keeps me fit without cutting into my time.
Do you guys have any cycling tips for me as newbie?