Beginner’s cycling tips: 25 essential pieces of advice for new cyclists (PART 2)

Cycling safety for new cyclists

Learn some basic city skills — be assertive and learn the primary and secondary riding positions  Jesse Wild

This is an important one — we want to keep you safe. The good news is that with the right mix of confidence and caution, city streets and rural roads are yours for the taking. Build up some experience and you’ll learn to read situations quickly and accurately.

16. If you’re going out for a long ride on your own, tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back. You are loved.

17. Learn some basic traffic-riding skills for the city. You’ll feel a lot more confident for it. Be assertive, stay out of the gutter, and remember that you’ve got as much right to be on the road as anyone else. Learn the difference between “primary” and “secondary” position, and use them appropriately.

18. The front brake is much more effective than the rear at stopping you, so try to achieve a 60/40 or 70/30 power distribution between front and rear. But be very, very careful not to lock it up. Modern brakes are pretty powerful, and you don’t want to go over the handlebars.

19. When cornering, ensure your outside pedal is at the lowest position, with pressure being placed on it. This will give you more grip, particularly in the wet, and make sliding out less likely.

20. On the road, learn how to ride in a group. A friendly pack of riders is much more efficient (read uses less energy) by taking turns at the front, but this requires riding close to each other. And you don’t want to cause any accidents. So keep a level head, don’t make any sudden movements or brake unexpectedly, and avoid “half-wheeling” (riding slightly ahead of the person next to you). Watch out for hand signals and warn following riders of any obstacles they might not see until it’s too late. They’ll do the same for you.

Riding technique

Riding’s much more fun when you’ve got your mates along  Steve Behr / Immediate Media

We come to our final section, cycling technique. There’s plenty of debate out there on the ‘right’ technique for all forms of riding, but there are also a few absolutes:

21. Get your riding position sorted. You’ll be more comfortable, more powerful and all-round happier if your bike is the right size, your saddle is at the right height and your handlebars are set up correctly. We highly recommend that cyclists of all levels get a professional bike fit, and a decent bike shop can help you here.

22. Avoid ‘cross chaining’ the gears. In other words, if you’re in the largest chain ring, don’t run it with the largest cassette cog (ditto, smallest chain ring, smallest cog). This stretches the chain and stresses the system. Your bike really doesn’t like it.

23. Try to maintain a high, regular pedalling cadence, around 70–90 pedal evolutions per minute if you can. If you’re grinding too hard a gear, your cadence will drop and power output will tail off. Try to anticipate big hills by shifting into a low (easy) gear just before you need it.

24. Find some riding buddies. That could mean joining a cycling club, persuading your mates to dust off their old bikes, or shadowing random strangers (actually, not the last one). But you’ll feel more motivated to get out and ride if you’ve got a pal to share it with.

25. Smile! Riding bikes is fun. Acknowledge other riders, enjoy yourself, then eat cake, and don’t worry too much about having the ‘right’ gear or the ‘best’ bike. The best bike out there is the one that you enjoy riding.