ur reasons for wanting to get out and ride vary but as the partner of someone that’s completely cycling mad, the only way to get to see him over a weekend was to go out riding with him!
Before I knew it, I was just as hooked. Saying that, there are times when I don’t necessarily want to go out for 3-4 hours on the bike or when I’d much prefer to go solo. This was the same even in the early days, when I wanted shorter rides to let myself get used to the bike.
The first thing that I had to get my head around was what to take out if I wanted a glitch-free ride. To save you the same head-scratching, here is a sneaky peek what made it onto my lists (kit, pre-ride checks etc.). I tried loads of Wiggle brands (both budget and expensive) but I’ve found myself being dhb-orientated; their cost / quality ratio was best for my “new and sussing out how much I’ll stick with it” budget. Great decision as it’s kept me going well beyond the newbie phase and kept me suited and booted as a racing type! With shoes, I like the R1.0′s but footwear is quite a personal kit item so try what catches your eye and find out what works for you. Ditto sunglasses. I’ve tried plenty and find that Oakley ones really suit me and fit well. I’ve now got a new pair of Radarlock Path’s but as a non-Oakley option, the dhb Triple Lens Sunglasses are a great way to enjoy perks of having interchangeable lenses for different light conditions.
Bike checks before the ride
- tyres pumped up to the correct pressure by using a track pump and that sufficient tread is on the tyres – make sure they are not worn too much. Depending on how many miles you ride, tyres do need to be replaced and/or checked often
- brake pads not too worn. Also check the condition of the braking surface of the pad
- chain is free of grit and dirt/grime. Clean chain with sufficient lubrication
- water bottle in water bottle cage
- cycle computer is charged/working so to record your mileage, time taken, heart rate (when you are wearing a heart rate monitor) etc.
I would suggest you need to know how to change your inner tube in case you have a puncture during your ride before you venture out on your own. Also make sure that you have at least one or two practise sessions beforehand as it doesn’t always go to plan… Role-playing problems you might possibly encounter always helps and practice makes perfect as they say – watching and doing are two totally different things!
When going out on your own have a route in mind so that you can estimate how long it is likely to take you. Try not to tackle too tough a route / terrain to begin with as you will need to build up your strength, stamina and endurance by increasing your mileage slowly and sensibly.
Always observe the highway code and try to anticipate what car drivers might do as they don’t always see cyclists when at junctions and even if obstructions are their side of the road they will still carry on driving towards you and expect you to get out of their way. I try to get eye contact with drivers when approaching a junction so that I can be sure they have actually seen me.
Getting used to the bike’s gears will take several rides – knowing what gear to be in over the different types of terrain and whether to be in the small chain ring or large chain ring – again practice makes perfect. If it feels tougher than it should be (struggling to turn the pedals), try changing gear.
Joining a local club on group rides is great for helping you with your group riding and special awareness skills. You become aware of who is around you, what space you have, learn the art of holding your line (ie riding in a straight line rather than drifting to the left or right), not undertaking riders on the inside etc.
You might even need to practice taking a water bottle from your water bottle cage safely and without drifting to the right or left of you, having a drink, and then placing it back again without wobbling. Sounds easy enough but not necessarily as easy as it sounds! Happy and safe cycling.