By now, everyone knows that I love cycling. I have been commuting daily since February 2012 and I have had The Tank, my two wheeled baby, since October 2012 and I simply couldn’t be happier with the whole thing. However, that’s not to say being a cyclist is easy. Car drivers hate you, pedestrians hate you, sometimes even other cyclists can be downright rude in your direction. But that is not to say you shouldn’t perservere. In fact, if you’re thnking of taking up cycling, think of the benefits to your health, the environment and your wallet, ignore the nay sayers and follow my top introductory tips!
Get a high visibility jacket – if you forget your light (tip 2 – don’t forget your light) and it goes dark on you, you still have some protection and even on a sunny day it may be hard to appreciate how hard you are to see. From the front or rear you are very narrow!!
If you haven’t already, get a bell.
Make eye contact with motorists when you are turning out at a junction or using a crossing. If you haven’t made eye contact, assume they haven’t seen you, it’s much safer that way.
Observe traffic lights. Nothing pisses me off more than cyclists who ignore them and the same goes for all other road users. Not only is it arrogant, it’s also stupid. Traffic lights are there to safely control traffic flow, have some respect.
Get some GOOD waterproofs. I used to have some ‘waterproof’ trousers which were in reality ‘borderline splashproof’. This led to soaking clothes by the time I got to work, not to mention the soaking wet arse in the days before I had a decent rear mudguard. However, once you get decent wet weather gear, you’ll find it takes up no space in your pannier so is easy to carry round and you’ll be happy to travel whatever the weather – just peel off your gear when you arrive and off you go! I find in a heavy downpour I now get to work in a better state than when I used to get the bus.
Get some cycling gloves – they give you extra grip and you can get surprisingly cold fingers even on a warm day! Additionally, last summer I got the worst cyclists tan with tanned back of hands but white fingers from where I gripped the handlebars. It just looks stupid, so I’m avoiding that this year.
And on that note, remember your sunblock. You’re outside ALL THE TIME now, don’t put your skin at risk.
If you get your grocery shop on the bike for the first time, be really aware of where your centre of gravity is. Heavy baskets or panniers really change how you ride, so take it steady.
Remember, even if you’re riding perfectly safely in a cycle lane, there will still be pedestrians walking down it, not looking where they’re going. Assume every pedestrian has absolutely no spatial awareness and you’ll do fine.
Have a little lie down after a long ride
So that’s it. I’m no expert, but these are things that have helped me a bit and I hope they help you a bit. I absolutely love cycling now and I wouldn’t be without it – walking is sooooooo sloooooow!